(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Booker T. Washington, builder of a civilization"

CORNELL , 
UNIVERSITY 
LIBRARY 




GIFT OF 



President 
J. G. Schurmsn 



Cornell University Library 

E185.97.W31 S42 



Booker T. Washington, builder of a civil 



olin 




3 1924 032 388 443 



DATE DUE 



■iATWJjiill 


mmm -^ 






*|#t^t''^ 


aiS^v^Sv^ 


«s 


BHHHIM^': 




















snmmssm^iistmg 


w^ 




>^ 


1 """'M^ 








""^im,,^ 
















'' 






HAW. A« 1 


^^\rt 








£JU 






























































CAVLORO 






#RINTEDINU.S.A. 




BOOK.ER T. WASHINGTON 



Booker T. Washington 

Builder of a Civilization 



By 

Emmett J. Scott 

and 

Lyman Beecher Stowe 




Illustrated from Photographs 



Garden City New York 

Doubleday, Page & Company 

1916 



t.v, 



■ri 

t03/ 



Copyright, 1916, by 

DOUBLEDAY, PaGE & CoMPANY 

AU rights reserved, including that of 

translation into foreign languages, 

including the Scandinavian 






COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY THE OUTLOOK PUBLISHING CO. 



FOREWORD 

IN THE passing of a character so unique as Dr. Booker T. 
Washington, many of us, his friends, were anxious that his 
biography should be written by those best quaHfied to do 
so. It is therefore a source of gratification to us of his own 
race to have an account of Dr. Washington's career set 
forth in a form at once accurate and readable, such as will 
inspire unborn generations of Negroes and others to love 
and appreciate all mankind of whatever race or color. It 
is especially gratifying that this biography has been pre- 
pared by the two people in all America best fitted, by 
antecedents and by intimate acquaintance and association 
with Dr. Washington, to undertake it. Mr. Lyman 
Beecher Stowe is the grandson of Harriet Beecher Stowe, 
whose "Uncle Tom's Cabin" had a very direct influence on 
the abolition of slavery, and Mr. Emmett J. Scott was Dr. 
Washington's loyal and trusted secretary for eighteen 
years. 

Robert R. Moton. 

Principal Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. 
Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, 

August I, igi6. 



AUTHORS' PREFACE 

such a record could best be furnished by his confidential 
associate, working in collaboration with a trained and ex- 
perienced writer, sympathetically interested in the welfare 
of the Negro race. This, then, is what we have tried to do 
and the way we have tried to do it. 

We completed the first four chapters before Mr. Wash- 
ington's death, but he never read them. In fact, it was 
our wish, to which he agreed, that he should not read what 
we had written until its publication in book form. 

Emmett J. Scott, 
Lyman Beecher Stowe. 



via 



PREFACE 

IT IS not hyperbole to say that Booker T. Washington 
was a great American. For twenty years before his 
death he had been the most useful, as well as the most 
distinguished, member of his race in the world, and one 
of the most useful, as well as one of the most distinguished, 
of American citizens of any race. 

Eminent though his services were to the people of his 
own color, the white men of our Republic were almost as 
much indebted to him, both directly and indirectly. 
They were indebted to him directly, because of the work 
he did on behalf of industrial education for the Negro, 
thus giving impetus to the work for the industrial educa- 
tion of the White Man, which is, at least, as necessary; 
and, moreover, every successful effort to turn the thoughts 
of the natural leaders of the Negro race into the fields of 
business endeavor, of agricultural effort, of every species 
of success in private life, is not only to their advantage, 
but to the advantage of the White Man, as tending to 
remove the friction and trouble that inevitably come 
throughout the South at this time in any Negro district 
where the Negroes turn for their advancement primarily 
to political life. 

The indirect indebtedness of the White Race to Booker 

ix 



PREFACE 

T. Washington is due to the simple fact that here in Amer- 
ica we are all in the end going up or down together; and 
therefore, in the long run, the man who makes a substan- 
tial contribution toward uplifting any part of the com- 
munity has helped to uplift all of the community. Wher- 
ever in our land the Negro remains uneducated, and 
liable to criminal suggestion, it is absolutely certain that 
the whites will themselves tend to tread the paths of bar- 
barism; and wherever we find the colored people as a 
whole engaged in successful work to better themselves, 
and respecting both themselves and others, there we shall 
also find the tone of the white community high. 

The patriotic white man with an interest in the welfare 
of this country is almost as heavily indebted to Booker T- 
Washington as the colored men themselves. 

If there is any lesson, more essential than any other, 
for this country to learn, it is the lesson that the enjoyment 
of rights should be made conditional upon the performance 
of duty. For one failure in the history of our country 
which is due to the people not asserting their rights, there 
are hundreds due to their not performing their duties. 
This is just as true of the White Man as it is of the Colored 
Man. But it is a lesson even more important to be taught 
the Colored Man, because the Negro starts at the bottom 
of the ladder and will never develop the strength to climb 
even a single rung if he follow the lead of those who dwell 
only upon their rights and not upon their duties. He has 
a hard road to travel anyhow. He is certain to be treated 
with much injustice, and although he will encounter 



PREFACE 

among white men a number who wish to help him upward 
and onward, he will encounter only too many who, if they 
do him no bodily harm, yet show a brutal lack of con- 
sideration for him. Nevertheless his one safety lies in 
steadily keeping in view that the law of service is the great 
law of life, above all in this Republic, and that no man of 
color can benefit either himself or the rest of his race, 
unless he proves by his life his adherence to this law. 
Such a life is not easy for the White Man, and it is very 
much less easy for the Black Man; but it is even more 
important for the Black Man, and for the Black Man's 
people, that he should lead it. 

As nearly as any man I have ever met, Booker T. Wash- 
ington lived up to Micah's verse, "What more doth the 
Lord require to thee than to do Justice and love Mercy and 
walk humbly with thy God." He did justice to every 
man. He did justice to those to whom it was a hard 
thing to do justice. He showed mercy; and this meant 
that he showed mercy not only to the poor, and to those 
beneath him, but that he showed mercy by an understand- 
ing of the shortcomings of those who failed to do him 
justice, and failed to do his race justice. He always under- 
stood and acted upon the belief that the Black Man could 
not rise if he so acted as to incur the enmity and hatred of 
the White Man; that it was of prime importance to the 
well-being of the Black Man to earn the good will of his 
white neighbor, and that the bulk of the Black Men 
who dwell in the Southern States must realize that the 
White Men who are their immediate physical neighbors 

xi 



PREFACE 

are beyond all others those whose good will and respect 
it is of vital consequence that the Black Men of the South 
should secure. 

He was never led away, as the educated Negro so often 
is led away, into the pursuit of fantastic visions; into the 
drawing up of plans fit only for a world of two dimensions. 
He kept his high ideals, always; but he never forgot for a 
moment that he was living in an actual world of three 
dimensions, in a world of unpleasant facts, where those 
unpleasant facts have to be faced; and he made the best 
possible out of a bad situation from which there was no 
ideal best to be obtained. And he walked humbly with 
his God. 

To a very extraordinary degree he combined humility 
and dignity; and I think that the explanation of this 
extraordinary degree of success in a very difficult com- 
bination was due to the fact that at the bottom his humility 
was really the outward expression, not of a servile attitude 
toward any man, but of the spiritual fact that in very 
truth he walked humbly with his God. 

Nowhere was Booker T. Washington's wisdom shown 
better than in the mixture of moderation and firmness 
with which he took precisely the right position as to the 
part the Black Man should try to take in politics. He 
put the whole case in a nut-shell in the following sentences: 

"In my opinion it is a fatal mistake to teach the young 
black man and the young white man that the dominance 
of the white race in the South rests upon any other basis 
than absolute justice to the weaker man. It is a mistake 
xii 



PREFACE 

to cultivate in the mind of any individual or group of 
individuals the feeling and belief that their happiness 
rests upon the misery of some one else, or their wealth by 
the poverty of some one else. I do not advocate that the 
Negro make politics or the holding of office an important 
thing in his life. I do urge, in the interests of fair play 
for everybody, that a Negro who prepares himself in 
property, in intelligence, and in character to cast a ballot, 
and desires to do so, should have the opportunity." 

In other words, while he did not believe that political 
activity should play an important part among Negroes as 
a whole, he did believe that in the interests of the White, 
as well as in the interests of the Colored, race, the upright, 
honest, intelligent Black Man or Colored Man should be 
given the right to cast a ballot if he possessed the qualities 
which, if possessed by a White Man, would make that 
White Man a valuable addition to the suffrage-exercising 
class. 

No man. White of Black, was more keenly alive than , 

Booker T. Washington to the threat of the South, and to -^ 
the whole country, and especially to the Black Man him- ^"^ 
self, contained in the mass of ignorant, propertyless, semi- 
vicious Black voters, wholly lacking in the character which 
alone fits a race for self-government, who nevertheless 
have been given the ballot in certain Southern States. 

In my many conversations and consultations with him it 
is, I believe, not an exaggeration to say that one-half the 
time we were discussing methods for keeping out of office, 
and out of all political power, the ignorant, semi-criminal, 

xiii 



PREFACE 

shiftless Black Man who, when manipulated by the able 
and unscrupulous politician, Black or White, is so dreadful 
a menace to our political institutions. But he felt very 
strongly, and I felt no less strongly, that one of the most 
efficient ways of warring against this evil type was to show 
the Negro that, if he turned his back on that type, and 
fitted himself to be a self-respecting citizen, doing his 
part in sustaining the common burdens of good citizenship, 
he would be freely accorded by his White neighbors the 
privileges and rights of good citizenship. Surely there can 
be no objection to this. Surely there can be no serious 
objection thus to keep open the door of hope for the 
thoroughly decent, upright, self-respecting man, no matter 
what his color. 

In the same way, while Booker T. Washington firmly 
beUeved that the attention of the Colored race should be 
riveted, not on political life, but on success sought in the 
fields of honest business endeavor, he also felt, and I agreed 
with him, that it was to the interest of both races that 
there should be appointments to office of Black Men whose 
"*** characters and abiHties were such that if they were White 
Men their appointments would be hailed as being well 
above the average, and creditable from every standpoint. 
He also felt, and I agreed with him, that it was essential 
that these appointments should be made relatively most 
numerous in the North — for it is worse than useless to 
preach virtue to others, unless the preachers themselves 
practise it; which means that the Northern communities, 
which pride themselves on possessing the proper attitude 



PREFACE 

toward the Negro, should show this attitude by their 
own acts within their own borders. 

I profited very much by my association with Booker T. 
Washington. I owed him much along many diflferent 
Unes. I valued greatly his friendship and respect; and 
when he died I mourned his loss as a patriot and an 
American. 

Theodore Roosevelt. 
Sagamore Hill, 

August 28, igi6. 



XV 



CONTENTS 



FAOE 



Foreword by Robert R. Moton v 

Authors' Preface vii 

Preface by Theodore Roosevelt ix 

CHAPTER 

I. The Man and His School in the Making . . 3 

II. Leader of His Race 19 

III. Washington: the Educator 57 

IV. The Rights of the Negro 82 

V. Meeting Race Prejudice 107 

VI. Getting Close to the People 135 

VII. Booker Washington and the Negro Farmer . 164 

VIII. Booker Washington and the Negro Business 

Man 185 

IX. Booker Washington Among His Students . . 222 

X. Raising Hundreds of Thousands a Year . . 248 

XI. Managing a Great Institution 272 

XII. Washington: The Man 300 



xvii 



ILLUSTRATIONS 
Booker T. Washington .... Frontispiece 

FACING 
PAGE 

Tuskegee in the making. Nothing delighted Mr. 
Washington more than to see his students do- 
ing the actual work of erecting the Tuskegee 
Institute buildings . . . . . 12 

Tuskegee Institute students laying the foundation 

for one of the four Emery buildings . . 14 

"His influence, Hke that of his school, was at first 
community wide, then county wide, then State 
wide, and finally nation wide" ... 16 

A study in black. Note the tensity of expression 
with which the group is following his each and 
every word . . . . . . . 32 

Showing some of the teams of farmers attending the 

Annual Tuskegee Negro Conference . . 58 

An academic class. A problem in brick masonry 62 

Mr. Washington in characteristic pose addressing 

an audience ....... 136 

Mr. Washington silhouetted against the crowd upon 

one of his educational tours .... 136 

Mr. Washington in typical pose speaking to an 

audience . . . . . .136 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PACING 
CAGE 

A party of friends who accompanied Dr. Washing- 
ton on one of his educational tours . • 13^ 

This old woman was a regular attendant at the 

Tuskegee Negro Conference . . . • 17° 

The cosmopoHtan character of the Tuskegee stu- 
dent body is shown by the fact that during the 
past year students have come from the foreign 
countries or colonies of foreign countries in- 
dicated by the various flags shown in this pic- 
ture 238 

In 1906 the Tuskegee Institute celebrated its 25th 
Anniversary. A group of well-known Ameri- 
can characters attended .... 248 

Some of Mr. Washington's humble friends . . 274 

Soil analysis. The students are required to work 
out in the laboratory the problems of the field 
and the shop ...... 274 

Mr. Washington was a great believer in the sweet 

potato 280 

Mr. Washington had this picture especially posed 
to show off to the best advantage a part of the 
^Tuskegee dairy herd ..... 290 

Mr. Washington feeding his chickens with green 

stuffs raised in his own garden . . . 306 

Mr. Washington in his onion patch . . . 306 

Mr. Washington sorting in his lettuce bed . . 306 



XX 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

BUILDER OF A CIVILIZATION 



CHAPTER ONE 

THE MAN AND HIS SCHOOL IN THE MAKING 

IT CAME about that in the year 1880, in Macon 
County, Alabama, a certain ex-Confederate colonel con- 
ceived the idea that if he could secure the Negro vote he 
could beat his rival and win the seat he coveted in the 
State Legislature. Accordingly, the colonel went to the 
leading Negro in the town of Tuskegee and asked him 
what he could do to secure the Negro vote, for Negroes 
then voted in Alabama without restriction. This man, 
Lewis Adams by name, himself an ex-slave, promptly re- 
plied that what his race most wanted was education and 
what they most needed was industrial education, and 
that if he (the colonel) would agree to work for the pas- 
sage of a bill appropriating money for the maintenance of 
an industrial school for Negroes, he (Adams) would help to 
get for him the Negro vote and the election. This bargain 
between an ex-slaveholder and an ex-slave was made and 
faithfully observed on both sides, with the result that the 
following year the Legislature of Alabama appropriated 
;22,ooo a year for the establishment of a normal and in- 
dustrial school for Negroes in the town of Tuskegee. On 
the recommendation of General Armstrong of Hampton 
Institute a young colored man, Booker T. Washington, a 

3 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

recent graduate of and teacher at the Institute, was called 
from there to take charge of this landless, buildingless, 
teacherless, and studentless institution of learning. 

This move turned out to be a fatal mistake in the politi- 
cal career of the colonel. The appellation of "nigger 
lover" kept him ever after firmly wedged in his political 
grave. Thus, by the same stroke, was the career of an ex- 
slaveholder wrecked and that of an ex-slave made. This 
political blunder of a local office-seeker gave to education 
one of its great formative institutions, to the Negro race its 
greatest leader, and to America one of its greatest citizens. 

One is tempted to feel that Booker T. Washington was 
always popular and successful. On the contrary, for 
many years he had to fight his way inch by inch against the 
bitterest opposition, not only of the whites, but of his own 
race. At that time there was scarcely a Negro leader of 
any prominence who was not either a politician or a 
preacher. In the introduction to "Up from Slavery," Mr. 
Walter H. Page says of his first experience many years ago 
with Booker Washington: "I had occasion to write to him, 
and I addressed him as 'The Rev. Booker T. Washington.' 
In his reply there was no mention of my addressing him as 
a clergyman. But when I had occasion to write to him 
again, and persisted in making him a preacher, his second 
letter brought a postscript: 'I have no claim to Rev.' I 
knew most of the colored men who at that time had become 
prominent as leaders of their race, but I had not then 
known one who was neither a politician nor a preacher; and 
I had not heard of the head of an important colored school 
4 



THE MAN AND HIS SCHOOL 

who was not a preacher. 'A new kind of man in the 
colored world,' I said to myself — 'a ney;?^ kind of man 
surely if he looks upon his task as an economic one instead 
of a theological one." 

And just because Booker Washington did look "upon 
his task as an economic one instead of a theological one " he 
was at first regarded with suspicion by most of the 
preachers of his race and by some openly denounced as 
irreligious and the founder of an irreligious school. Like 
so many men of greater opportunity in all ages and places, 
many of these Negro ministers confounded theology and 
religion. Finding no theology about Booker Washington 
or his school, they assumed there was no religion. Some 
of them even went so far as to warn their congregations 
from the pulpit to keep away from this Godless man and 
his Godless school. To this formidable and at first almost 
universal opposition from the leaders among his own 
people was added the more natural opposition of the 
neighboring white men who assumed that he was "spoiling 
the niggers" by education. A youth with a high collar, 
loud necktie, checked suit, and patent-leather shoes, 
dangling a cane, smoking a cigarette, and loitering im- 
pudently on a street corner was their mental picture of an 
educated Negro. 

Among the original group of thirty students with whom 
Mr. Washington started Tuskegee Institute on an old 
plantation equipped with a kitchen, a stable, and a hen- 
house, was a now elderly man who to-day has charge of the 
spacious and beautiful grounds of the Institute. He was 

S 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

approaching middle age when he entered this original 
Tuskegee class. The following is a paraphrase of his ac- 
count of the early days of the school : "After we'd been out 
on the plantation three or four weeks Mr. Washington 
came into the schoolroom and said: 'To-morrow we're 
going to have a chopping bee. All of you that have an axe, 
or can borrow one, must bring it. I will try and provide 
those of you who cannot furnish an axe. ( We will dismiss 
school early to-morrow afternoon and start for the chop- 
ping bee.' So we came to school next day with the axes, all 
of us that could get them; we were all excited and eager 
for that chopping bee, and we were all discussing what it 
would be like, because we had never been to one before. 
So in the afternoon Mr. Washington said it was time for 
that chopping bee, so he put his axe over his shoulder and 
led us to the woods and put us to work cutting the trees and 
clearing the land. He went right in and worked harder 
and faster and handled his axe better than any of us. After 
a while we found that a chopping bee, as he called it, was no 
different from just plain cutting down trees and clearing 
the land. There wasn't anything new about that — we all 
had had all we wanted of it. Some of the boys said they 
didn't come to school to cut down trees and clear land, but 
they couldn't say they were too good for that kind of work 
when Mr. Washington himself was at it harder than any of 
them. So he kept with us for some days till everybody 
had his idea. Then he went off to do something more im- 
portant. 

"Now, in those days he used to go off every Saturday 
6 



THE MAN AND HIS SCHOOL 

morning and he wouldn't come back till Monday morning. 
He'd travel all round the country drumming up students 
for the school and telling the people to send their children. 
And on Sunday he'd get the preachers to let him get up in 
their pulpits and tell the people about the school after they 
had finished preaching. And the preachers would warn 
their people against him and his school, because they said 
it wasn't Methodist, and it wasn't Baptist, and it wasn't 
Presbyterian, and it wasn't Episcopahan, and it wasn't 
Christian. And they told the people to keep their children 
away from that Godless man and his school. But when he 
came along and asked to speak to the people they had to 
leave him, just as everybody always did — let him do just 
what he wanted to do. And when they heard him, the 
people, they didn't pay no attention to the preachers, they 
just sent their children as fast as ever they could contrive 
it. 

"Now, in those days Mr. Washington didn't have a 
horse, nor a mule, nor a wagon, and he wanted to cover 
more country on those trips than he could afoot, so he'd 
just go out in the middle of the road and when some old 
black man would come along driving his mule wagon he'd 
stop him and talk with him, and tell him about the school 
and what it was going to do for the black folks, and then 
he'd say: 'Now, Uncle, you can help by bringing your 
wagon and mule round at nine o'clock Saturday morning 
for me to go off round the country telHng the people about 
the school. Now, remember. Uncle Jake, please be here 
promptly at nine,' and the old man would say, 'Yes, boss, 

7 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

I sure will be here!' That was how he did it— when he 
needed anything he'd go out and put his hand on it. First, 
he could put his hand on anything he wanted round the 
town; then, he could put his hand on anything he wanted 
all over the county; then he could put his hand on any- 
thing he wanted all over the State; and then finally they do 
tell me he could put his hand on anything he wanted away 
up to New York. 

"In those days, after we came to live here on the 
'plantation,' I used to take the wheelbarrow and go round 
to the office when Mr. Washington opened up the mail in 
the morning, and if there was money in the mail then I 
could go along to the town with the wheelbarrow and get 
provisions, and if there was no money then there was no 
occasion to go to town, and we'd just eat what we had left. 
Most of the white storekeepers wouldn't give us credit, and 
they didn't want a 'nigger school' here anyhow. Times 
have changed. Now those storekeepers get a large pro- 
portion of their trade here at the Institute, and if there 
should be any talk of moving, they'd just get up and fight 
to the last to keep us here and keep our trade. 

"And in those days the Negro preachers, or the most of 
them, and the white folks, or the most of them, were al- 
ways trying to dispute with Mr. Washington and quarrel 
with him, but he just kept his mouth shut and went ahead. 
He kept pleasant and he wouldn't dispute with them, nor 
argue with them, nor quarrel with them. When the white 
folks would come round and tell him he was 'spoiling good 
niggers by education,' he would just ask them to wait 
8 



THE MAN AND HIS SCHOOL 

patiently and give him time to show them what the right 
kind of education would do. And when the colored 
preachers would come round and tell him he was no 
Christian, and his school had no rehgion, he would ask 
them to just wait and see if the boys and girls were any 
less Christian because of the education they were get- 
ting. But whoever came along and whatever happened 
Mr. Washington just kept his mouth shut and went 
ahead. 

"After two years of school I went out and rented some 
land and planted cotton, and just about time to harvest 
my crop Mr. Washington sent for me one Saturday and 
said : 'I need you. I want you to come back and work for 
the school on the farm. I want you to start in Monday 
morning.' When I told him about my cotton crop just 
ready to be picked he said : 'Can't help that, we need you. 
You'll have to arrange with your neighbors to harvest 
your crop for you.'" 

To the inquiry, "Well, did you come?" the old man re- 
plied, "Of course I did. When Mr. Washington said come 
I came same as everybody did what he told them. I got a 
neighbor to harvest my crop and I lost money on it, but I 
came to work that Monday morning more than thirty years 
ago, and I've been here ever since." 

The idea of not doing what Mr. Washington wanted him 
to do, or even arguing the matter, was evidently incon- 
ceivable to this old man. He had always obeyed Mr. 
Washington just as he had obeyed the laws of nature by 
sleeping and eating. That is the kind of control which 

9 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Booker Washington always exercised over his fellow-work- 
ers. He accepted their implicit obedience as naturally 
and simply as they gave it. 

As Mr. Page also points out in the introduction to Up 
from Slavery," however humble Mr. Washington's origin 
may have been, what might be termed his intellectual 
pedigree was of the highest and finest. He may be called, 
in fact, the spiritual grandson of the great Dr. Mark Hop- 
kins of Williams College. Just as Samuel Armstrong was 
perhaps the most receptive of Mark Hopkins' pupils, so 
Booker Washington became the most receptive pupil of 
Samuel Armstrong. As says Mr. Page: "To the for- 
mation of Mr. Washington's character, then, went the mis- 
sionary zeal of New England, influenced by one of the 
strongest personalities in modern education, and the wide- 
reaching moral earnestness of General Armstrong himself." 
In his autobiography Mr. Washington thus describes 
General Armstrong's influence and the impression he made 
upon him: "It has been my fortune to meet personally 
many of what are called great characters, both in Europe 
and America, but I do not hesitate to say that I never met 
any man who, in my estimation, was the equal of General 
Armstrong. Fresh from the degrading influences of the 
slave plantation and the coal mines, it was a rare privilege 
for me to be permitted to come into direct contact with 
such a character as General Armstrong. I shall always re- 
member that the first time I went into his presence he 
made the impression upon me of being a perfect man; I 
was made to feel that there was something about him that 

ID 



THE MAN AND HIS SCHOOL 

was superhuman. It was my privilege to know the 
General personally from the time I entered Hampton till he 
died, and the more I saw of him the greater he grew in my 
estimation. One might have removed from Hampton all 
the buildings, classrooms, teachers, and industries, and 
given the men and women there the opportunity of coming 
into daily contact with General Armstrong, and that alone 
would have been a liberal education. (This recalls 
President Garfield's definition of a university when he said, 
' my idea of a university is a log with Mark Hopkins on one 
end and a boy on the other.') The older I grow, the more 
I am convinced that there is no education which one can 
get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that 
which can be gotten from contact with great men and 
women. Instead of studying books so constantly, how I 
wish that our schools and colleges might learn to study 
men and things!" 

When the young man imbued with these ideas and 
fresh from these influences found himself responsible for 
the destinies of a studentless, teacherless, buildingless, and 
landless school it is significant how he went to work to 
supply these manifold deficiencies. First, he found a 
place in which to open the school — a dilapidated shanty 
church, the A. M. E. Zion Church for Negroes, in the town 
of Tuskegee. Next he went about the surrounding 
countryside, found out exactly under what conditions the 
people were living and what their needs were, and ad- 
vertised the school among the class of people whom he 
wanted to have attend it. After returning from these ex- 
it 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

periences he said: "I saw more clearly than ever the wis- 
dom of the system which General Armstrong had m- 
augurated at Hampton. To take the children of such 
people as I had been among for a month, and each day give 
them a few hours of mere book education, I felt would be 
almost a waste of time." 

Six weeks after the school was opened, on July 4, 1 88 1, in 
the shanty Methodist Church with thirty students. Miss 
Olivia A. Davidson entered the school, the enrollment of 
which had already grown to fifty, as assistant teacher. 
She subsequently became Mrs. Washington. The school 
then had students, a teacher, and a building such as it was, 
but it had no land. It was succeeding in so far as teaching 
these eager and knowledge hungry young people what 
could be learned from books, but little more. Mr. Wash- 
ington found that about 85 per cent, of the Negroes of the 
Gulf States lived on the land and were dependent upon 
agriculture for their livelihood. Hence, he reasoned that 
it was of supreme importance to teach them how to live on 
the land to the best advantage. In order to teach the 
students how to live on the land the school itself must have 
land. About this time an old plantation near the town of 
Tuskegee came upon the market. The school had no 
money. Mr. Washington had no money, and the $2,000 a 
year from the State Treasury could be used only for the 
payment of teachers. Accordingly Mr. Washington per- 
sonally borrowed the $250, from a personal friend, necessary 
to secure title to the land, and moved the school from the 
shanty church to the comparative comfort of four aged 
12 



THE MAN AND HIS SCHOOL 

cabins formerly used as the dining-room, kitchen, stable, 
and hen-house of the plantation. 

And as soon as they were established in their new quar- 
ters he organized the "chopping bee " already described and 
cleared some of the land so that it could be used for crops. 
He did not clear and plant this land to give his students 
agricultural training. He did it for the purpose that all 
land was originally cleared and planted — to get food. 
He, of course, realized that the educational content of this 
work was great — greater than any possible textbook ex- 
ercises in the classroom. He then and there began the 
long and difficult task of teaching his people that physical 
work, and particularly farm work, if rightly done was edu- 
cation, and that education was work. To secure the ac- 
ceptance of this truth by a race only recently emancipated 
from over two hundred years of unrequited toil — a race 
that had always regarded freedom from the necessity for 
work as an indication of superiority — was not a hopeful 
task. To them education was the antithesis of work. It 
was the magic elixir which emancipated all those fortunate 
enough to drink of it from the necessity for work. 

He also began to emphasize at this time his familiar 
dictum that learning to do the common things of life in an 
uncommon way was an essential part of real education. 
Probably the reverse of this dictum, namely, learning to do 
the uncommon things of life in a common way — would 
have more nearly corresponded to the popular conception 
of education among most Negroes and many whites. 

Mr. Washington later developed a brickyard where, 

13 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

after a series of failures sufficient to convince any ordinary 
man of the hopelessness of the enterprise, they finally suc- 
ceeded in baking creditable bricks which were used by the 
students in the construction of buildings for the school. 
He did not start this brickyard for the purpose of 
vocational training any more than he started the farm 
for agricultural training. He started it because they 
needed bricks with which to build buildings in which to 
live, just as he started the farm to raise food upon which to 
live. He saw to it, however, that the brickyard was used 
as an instrument of education and was never allowed to 
degenerate into a mere brickyard and nothing more, just 
as he saw to it that the farm was used as a means of educa- 
tion and was not allowed to degenerate into a mere farm and 
nothing more. It was even more difficult to persuade the 
students that the hard, heavy, dirty work of the brickyard 
was education than it had been to persuade them that farm 
work was education. Mr. Washington wasted no time in 
arguing this point, however, but merely insisted that with- 
out bricks they could not put up proper buildings, and that 
without buildings they could not have such a school as they 
must have not only for themselves but for their race. 

So this originally landless, buildingless, studentless, and 
teacherless school came eventually to have all four of these 
obvious requisites, but it still lacked a fundamental re- 
quirement for the effective fulfillment of its purpose. It 
lacked a boarding department where the students might 
learn to live. In his tours among the people Mr. Wash- 
ington had found the great majority in the plantation dis- 
14 



THE MAN AND HIS SCHOOL 

tricts living on fat pork and corn bread, and sleeping in one- 
room cabins. They planted nothing but cotton, bought 
their food at the nearest village or town market instead of 
raising it, and lived under conditions where the funda- 
mental laws of hygiene and decent social intercourse were 
both unknown and impossible of application. The young 
men and women from such homes must be taught how to 
live in houses with more than one room, how to keep their 
persons and their surroundings clean, how to sleep in a bed 
between sheets, how not only to raise but to prepare, serve, 
and eat a healthful variety of proper food at regular and 
stated intervals, to say nothing of a trade by which to 
maintain themselves both during their course and after 
graduation as well as the usual book learning of the ordi- 
nary school. Obviously they could not be taught these 
things unless they lived day and night on the school 
grounds instead of boarding about with people whose 
standards of living were very little if at all higher than 
those of their homes. Accordingly volunteers were called 
for, and the students made an excavation under their new 
brick building which was made into a basement kitchen 
and dining-room. As Mr. Washington says in "Up from 
Slavery," "We had nothing but the students and their ap- 
petites with which to begin a boarding department." As 
soon as this boarding department was established it be- 
came possible to influence directly the lives of the students 
during the entire twenty-four hours of the day. From then 
on each student was required to have and to use a tooth- 
brush. Mr. Washington has since remarked that, in his 

IS 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

opinion, the toothbrush is the most potent single instrument 
of civilization. Then, too, it was possible for him to begin 
to enforce this injunction taken from one of his now well- 
known Sunday night talks, "Make a study of the prepara- 
tion of food. See to it that a certain ceremony, a certain 
importance, be attached to the partaking ofthe food— — " 
This exhortation sounds so commonplace as to be scarcely 
noticed by the average reader, but just put yourself in the 
place of one of these boys or girls who came from a one- 
room cabin and realize what a profoundly revolutionary, 
even sensational, injunction it is! To the boy or girl who 
had snatched a morsel of food here, there, or anywhere 
when prompted by the gnawings of hunger, who had never 
sat down to a regular meal, who had never partaken of a 
meal placed upon a table with or without ceremony — 
imagine what it meant to such a boy or girl "to see to it 
that a certain ceremony, a certain importance, be attached 
to the partaking ofthe food " — not on special occasions but 
at each one of the three meals of each day! 

Finally it came about that this school which had started 
with a paltry $2,000 a year, a great need, and the in- 
vincible determination of one man, came to have land, 
buildings, teachers, students, and even a boarding de- 
partment. But in Mr. Washington's view there was still a 
great fundamental lack in their work. They were doing 
nothing directly to help those less fortunate than them- 
selves — those about them who could not come and enjoy 
the advantages of the school. Mr. Washington held that 
as soon as an individual got hold of anything as useful and 
16 




BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

'His influence, like that of his school, was at first community wide, then 
county wide, then state wii\e, and finally nation wide" 



THE MAN AND HIS SCHOOL 

desirable as education he should take immediate means to 
hand it on to the greatest possible number of those who 
needed it. He had no patience with those persons who 
would climb the tree of knowledge and then pull the ladder 
up after them. 

He and his teachers then began to go out on Sundays and 
give the people homely talks on how to improve their living 
conditions. They encouraged the farmers to come to the 
school farm and learn how to grow a variety of crops to 
supplement the cotton crop which was their sole reliance. 
They relieved the distress of individual families. Mrs. 
Washington gathered together in an old loft the farmers' 
wives and daughters who were in the habit of loafing about 
the village of Tuskegee on Saturday afternoons and formed 
them into a woman's club for the improvement of the liv- 
ing conditions in their homes and communities. Mr. 
Washington and his teachers went right on to the farms and 
into the homes, and into the churches and the schools, and 
everywhere showed, for the most part by concrete object- 
lessons, how they could make their farms more productive, 
their homes more comfortable, their schools more useful, 
and their church services more inspiring. All this was 
done not with an idea of starting an extension department 
or a social service department, but merely because these 
people needed help, and Mr. Washington knew that both 
teachers and students would help themselves in helping 
them. Finally, chiefly through the efforts of Mrs. Wash- 
ington, a model country school was established in the 
district adjoining the Institute's property. This school is 

17 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

a farm home where the young teacher and his wife, both 
graduates of Tuskegee, teach the boys and girls who come 
to them each day how to Hve on a farm — teach them by 
practice and object-lesson as well as by precept. They 
follow the ordinary country school curriculum, but that is a 
small and relatively unimportant part of what this school 
gives its pupils. Then, too, the teachers of Tuskegee early 
started campaigns looking to the extending of the school 
terms throughout Macon County and the adjoining coun- 
ties from three to five months, as was customary, to nine 
months. 

And this work of Tuskegee beyond its own borders grew 
as constantly in volume and extent as the work within its 
borders, so that Tuskegee soon became the vital force — 
the yeast that was raising the level of life and well-being 
throughout, first, the town and neighborhood of Tuskegee, 
then the County of Macon, then the surrounding counties 
and the State of Alabama; and finally, in conjunction with 
its mother, Hampton, and its children situated at strategic 
points throughout the South, the entire Negro people of the 
South, and indirectly the whole nation. 

And as the school grew, so grew the man whose life was 
its embodiment. It is impossible to think of Booker 
Washington and Tuskegee separately. Just as he typified 
Tuskegee, so Tuskegee typified him. Just as he made 
the school, so the school made him. His influence, like that 
of his school, was at first community wide, then county 
wide, then State wide, and finally nation wide. 



CHAPTER TWO 

LEADER OF HIS RACE 

IN 1895, fourteen years after the founding of Tuskegee 
Institute, Booker T. Washington was selected to 
represent his race at the opening of the Cotton States 
and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. On 
this occasion he mounted the platform, to make the first 
address which any member of his race had ever made be- 
fore any representative body of Southern men and women, 
as an obscure but worthy young colored man who had com- 
mended himself to a few thinking persons by building up 
an excellent industrial school for his people. He came off 
that platform amid scenes of almost hysterical enthusiasm 
and was thenceforth proclaimed as the leader of his race, 
the Moses of his people, and one of America's great men. 
In this epoch-making speech Booker Washington had 
presented a solution of an apparently insoluble problem. 
He had offered a platform upon which, as Clark Howell 
said in the Atlanta Constitution, "both races, blacks and 
whites, could stand with full justice to each." In the 
course of the speech he told this story: "A ship lost at sea 
for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From 
the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal: 
'Water, water; we die of thirst!' The answer from the 

19 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

friendly vessel at once came back: 'Cast down your 
bucket where you are.' A second time the signal, 'Water, 
water, send us water!' ran up from the distressed vessel, 
and was answered: 'Cast down your bucket where you 
are.' And a third and fourth signal for water was an- 
swered, 'Cast down your bucket where you are.' The 
captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the in- 
junction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh, 
sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River." 
He then appealed to his own people to "cast down their 
buckets where they were" by making friends with their 
white neighbors in every manly way, by training them- 
selves where they were in agriculture, in mechanics, in 
commerce, instead of trying to better their condition by 
migration. And finally to the Southern white people he 
appealed "to cast down their buckets where they were" 
by using and training the Negroes whom they knew rather 
than seeking to import foreign laborers whom they did not 
know. 

When he reached the crux and climax of the speech — the 
delicate matter of the relations between the races, socially 
— he held up his right hand with his fingers outstretched 
and said: "In all things that are purely social we can be as 
separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things 
essential to mutual progress." At this remark the au- 
dience went wild ! Ladies stood on their chairs and waved 
their handkerchiefs, while men threw up their hats, danced, 
and catcalled. An old ante-bellum Negro, who had been 
sitting crosslegged in one of the aisles, wept tears of pride 
20 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

and joy as he swayed from side to side. By this state- 
ment, with what had led up to it, Booker Washington cap- 
tured the allegiance of all really representative Southern 
whites, and by consistently adhering to this position he, in 
an ever-increasing degree, won and held their allegiance 
till the end. 

Frederick Douglass, the great leader of his race during 
the closing days of slavery, during the War and the Re- 
construction period, had died only a few months before. 
Everywhere, by leading whites, as well as blacks, Wash- 
ington was acclaimed as the successor of Douglass — the new 
leader of the Negro race. One of the first colored men so 
to acclaim him was Emmet J. Scott, who was then editing 
a Negro newspaper in Houston, Texas, and little realized 
that he was to become the most intimate associate of the 
new leader. In an editorial Mr. Scott said of this ad- 
dress: "Without resort to exaggeration, it is but simple 
justice to call the address great. It was great! Great, in 
that it exhibited the speaker's qualities of head and heart; 
great in that he could and did discriminately recognize con- 
ditions as they affect his people, and greater still in the 
absolute modesty, self-respect, and dignity with which he 
presented a platform upon which, as Clark Howell, of the 
Atlanta Constitution says: 'both races, blacks and whites, 
can stand with full justice to each.'" Perhaps the most 
remarkable feature of Booker Washington's leadership 
was that from that time on he never deviated one hair's 
breadth in word or deed from the platform laid down in 
this brief address. 

21 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

It was not to be expected, however, that such a radically- 
new note in Negro leadership could be struck without some 
discord. As was perfectly natural, some more or less 
prominent Negroes, whose mental processes followed the 
lines of cleavage between the races engendered by the em- 
bittering experiences of the Reconstruction period, looked 
with suspicion upon a Negro leader who had won the ap- 
probation of the South, of leading white citizens, press, and 
public. In the days of slavery it was a frequent custom on 
large plantations to use one of the slaves as a kind of stool 
pigeon to spy upon the others and report their misdeeds. 
Naturally such persons were hated and despised and looked 
upon as traitors to their race. Hence, it came about that 
the praise of a white man was apt to throw suspicion upon 
the racial loyalty of a black man. This habit of mind, like 
all mental habits, long survived the system and circum- 
stances which occasioned it. Therefore, it was inevitable 
that the fact that the white press throughout the South 
rang with his praises for days and weeks after the sen- 
sationally enthusiastic reception of his speech at the ex- 
position should not be accepted as a desirable endorsement 
of the new leader by at least a few of his own people. 

A more or less conspicuous colored preacher summed up 
this slight undertow of dissent when he said: "I want to 
pay my respects next to a colored man. He is a great man, 
too, but he isn't our Moses, as the white people are pleased 
to call him. I allude to Booker T. Washington. He has 
been with the white people so long that he has learned to 
throw sop with the rest. He made a speech at Atlanta the 

22 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

other day, and the newspapers of all the large cities praised 
it and called it the greatest speech ever delivered by a 
colored man. When I heard that, I said: 'There must be 
something wrong with it, or the white people would not be 
praising it so.' I got the speech and read it. Then I said, 
'Ah, here it is,' and I read his words, 'the colored people do 
not want social equality.' (This man's interpretation of 
this sentence in the speech, "The wisest among my race 
understand that the agitation of questions of social 
equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the en- 
joyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be 
the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of 
artificial forcing.") I tell you that is a lie. We do want 
social equality. Why, don't you want your manhood 
recognized? Then Mr. Washington said that our emanci- 
pation and enfranchisement were untimely and a mistake; 
that we were not ready for it. (Naturally, Mr. Washing- 
ton said no such thing.) What did he say that for but to 
tickle the palates of the white people? Oh, yes, he was 
shrewd. He will get many hundreds of dollars for his 
school by it." 

Let it not be thought that this attitude represented any 
large or important body of opinion among the Negroes. 
The great majority both of the leaders and the rank and 
file enthusiastically accepted both the new leader and his 
new kind of leadership. The small minority, however, 
holding the view of the preacher quoted, continued 
to cause Booker Washington some annoyance, which, 
although continuously lessening, persisted in some de- 

23 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

gree throughout his Hfe. This numerically small and 
individually unimportant element of the Negroes in 
America would hardly warrant even passing mention ex- 
cept that the always carping and sometimes bitter criti- 
cisms of these persons are apt to confuse the well-wishers 
of the race who do not understand the situation. 

The Negroes holding this point of view are sometimes 
pleased to refer to themselves as the Talented Tenth. 
They are largely city dwellers who have had more or less of 
what they term "higher education" — Latin, Greek, 
Theology, and the like. A number of these persons make 
all or a part of their living by publicly bewailing the 
wrongs and injustices of their race and demanding their 
redress by immediate means. Mr. Washington's emphasis 
upon the advantages of Negroes in America and the debt 
of gratitude which they owe to the whites, who have 
helped them to make more progress in fifty years than any 
other race ever made in a like period, is naturally very 
annoying to this type of person. In spite of their constant 
abuse of him Mr. Washington some years ago agreed to 
confer with the leaders of this faction to see if a program 
could not be devised through which all could work to- 
gether instead of at cross purposes. In spite of the fact 
that the chief exponent of this group opened the first 
meeting with a bitter attack upon Mr. Washington, such a 
program was adopted, to which, before the conferences 
were over, all duly and amicably agreed to adhere. Some 
of the more restless spirits among the leaders of the 
Talented Tenth soon, however, broke their pledges, repu- 
24 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

diated the whole arrangement, and started in as before to 
denounce Mr. Washington and those who thought and 
acted with him. 

After the Atlanta speech Mr. Washington's task was a 
dual one. While the active head of his great and rapidly 
growing institution, he was also the generally accepted 
leader of his race. It is with his leadership of his race 
that we are concerned in this chapter. His duties in this 
capacity were vast and ill defined, and his responsibility 
exceedingly heavy. He said, himself, that when he 
first came to be talked of as the leader of his race he was 
somewhat at a loss to know what was expected of him 
in that capacity. His tasks in this direction, however, 
were thrust upon him so thick and fast that he had not long 
to remain in this state of mind. After the Atlanta speech 
he was in almost daily contact with what was befalling his 
people in all parts of the country and to some extent all 
over the world. Through his press clipping service, sup- 
plemented by myriads of letters and personal reports, 
practically every event of any significance to his race came 
to his notice. Wheai he heard of rioting, lynching, or 
serious trouble in any community he sent a message of 
advice, encouragement, or warning to the leading Negroes 
of the locality and sometimes to the whites whom he knew 
to be interested in the welfare of the Negroes. When the 
trouble was sufficiently serious to warrant it he went in 
person to the scene. When he heard of a Negro winning a 
prize at a county fair, or being placed in some position of 
unusual trust and distinction, he wrote him a letter of con- 

25 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

gratulation and learned the circumstances so that he might 
cite the incident by way of encouragement to others. 

After the riots in Atlanta, Georgia, some years ago, when 
infuriated white mobs foiled in their efforts to lynch a 
Negro murderer, burned, killed, and laid waste right and 
left in the Negro section of the town, Mr. Washington, who 
was in the North at the time, boarded the first train for the 
city, arrived just after the bloody scenes, gathered together 
his frightened people amid the smoking ruins of their 
homes, soothed, calmed, and cheered them. He then went 
to the leading city officials, secured from them a promise of 
succor for the stricken people and protection against 
further attack. Next he went to the Governor of the 
State, secured his sympathy and cooperation, and with 
him organized a conference of leading State and city 
officials and other representative men who there and then 
mapped out a program tending to prevent the recurrence 
of such race riots — a program which up to the present time 
has successfully fulfilled its purpose. It is characteristic 
of Mr. Washington's methods that he turned this disaster 
into an ultimate blessing for the very community that was 
afflicted. 

Mr. Washington was the kind of leader who kept very 
close to the plain people. He knew their every-day lives, 
their weaknesses, their temptations. To use a slang 
phrase, he knew exactly what they "were up against" 
whether they lived in country or city. Within a com- 
paratively short period before his death he addressed two 
audiences as widely separated by distance and environ- 
26 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

ment as the farmers gathered together for the first Negro 
Fair of southwestern Georgia at Albany, Georgia, and five 
thousand Negro residents of New York City assembled 
in the Harlem Casino. He told those Georgia farmers 
how much land they owned and to what extent it was 
mortgaged, how much land they leased, how much cotton 
they raised, and how much of other crops they raised, or, 
rather, did not raise; how many mules and hogs they 
owned, and how they could with profit increase their 
ownership in mules and hogs; he told them how many 
drug stores, grocery stores, and banks in the State and 
county were owned by Negroes; and then, switching from 
the general to the particular, he described the daily life of 
the ordinary, easy-going tenant farmer of the locality. He 
pictured what he saw when he came out of his unpainted 
house in the morning: that gate off the hinges, that 
broken window-pane with an old coat stuck into it, that 
cotton planted right up to the doors with no room left for a 
garden, and no garden; and, worse than all, the uncomfort- 
able knowledge of debts concealed from the hard-working 
wife and mother. Then he pictured what that same man's 
place might be and should become. 

It was once said of a certain eminent preacher that his 
logic was on fire. It might be said of Booker Washington 
that his statistics were on fire. He marshalled them in 
such a way that they were dynamic and stirring instead of 
static and paralyzing, as we all know them to our sorrow. 
It so happened that Mr. Washington had never before been 
in southwestern Georgia. After his speech one old farmer 

27 



\^ 






■\):/ BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

« » J > 

was heard to say as he shook his head: "I don t understan 

/ it! Booker T. Washington he ain't never ben here befo', 
V I yit he knows mo"bout dese parts an' mo"bout us den what 
'^"^ eny of us knows ourselves." This old man did not know 

that one of Mr. Washington's most painstaking and 
efficient assistants, Mr. Monroe N. Work, the editor of the 
Negro Year Book, devoted much of his time to keeping his 
chief provided with this startlingly accurate information 
about his people in every section of the United States. 

On this occasion there were on the platform with Mr. 
Washington and the officials of the fair the Mayor of 
Albany and members of the City Council, while in the 
audience were several hundred whites on one side of the 
centre aisle and twice as many blacks on the other. And 
Mr. Washington would alternately address himself to his 
white and black audience. He would, for instance, turn to 
the white men and tell them that he had never known a 
particularly successful black man who could not trace his 
original success to the aid or encouragement he had re- 
ceived in one form or another from a white friend. He 
would tell them that without their assistance his race could 
never have made more progress in the last fifty years in this 
country than any similar group of people had ever made in 
a like period of time. After he had raised the white 
section of his audience to a high degree of self-congratula- 
tory complaisance he would suddenly shift the tenor of his 
remarks and ask them why they should mar this splendid 
record by discriminating against the weaker race in mat- 
ters of education, by destroying their confidence in the 
28 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

justice of the courts through mob violence, and by the 
numerous small, mean ways in which race prejudice shows 
itself and retards and discourages the upward struggle of a 
weaker people. As he proceeded along these lines one 
could see the self-congratulatory expression fade from the 
faces of his white listeners. 

He would next turn to his own people and tell them of 
their phenomenal progress since emancipation and of the 
great and essential part they had played in the upbuilding 
of the South — left prostrate by the Civil War. One could 
see their eager, upturned faces glow with pride and self- 
satisfaction. But suddenly he would shift the tone of his 
comments and tell them how sadly those of them who were 
indolent and shiftless and unreliable and vicious were re- 
tarding the upward struggles of the industrious and self- 
respecting majority and how they were perpetuating the 
prejudice against the whole race. And as he pictured this 
seamy side of the situation one could see the glow of pride 
gradually wilt from the myriads of swarthy upturned 
faces. 

Hardly less successful than his use of statistics was his 
use of the much-abused funny story. He never told a 
story, however good, for its own sake. He told it only 
when it would most effectively drive home whatever point 
he happened to be making. In this same speech he was 
saying that a Negro who is lazy and unreliable and does 
nothing to accumulate property or improve his earning 
capacity deserves no consideration from whites or blacks 
and has no right to say that the color line is drawn against 

29 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

him. By way of illustration he told this story: "A shift- 
less Southern poor white asked a self-respecting old black 
man for three cents with which to pay his ferry fare across 
a river. The old black man replied : ' I's sorry not to com- 
merdate yer, boss, but der fac' is dat a man what ain't got 
three cents is jest as bad off on one side ob der ribber as der 
udder.'" 

At another point in this speech he was telling his people 
not to be discouraged because their race has less to point to 
than other races in the way of past achievements. He said 
that after all it was the future that was of vital concern and 
not the past, and that the future was theirs to a peculiar 
degree because they were a young race. And to illustrate 
their situation he told of meeting old Aunt Caroline one 
evening striding along with a basket on her head. He said, 
"Where are you going. Aunt Caroline?" And she re- 
plied : "Lor' bless yer, Mister Washin'ton, I dun bin where 
I's er goin'." "And so," he concluded, "some of the 
races of the earth have dun bin where dey was er goin'!" 
but fortunately the Negro race was not among them. 

In making the point that, in spite of race prejudice, the 
handicaps to which his people were subjected in the South 
were after all superficial and did not interfere with their 
chance to work and earn a living, he told the experience of 
an old Negro who was accompanying him on one of his 
Southern educational tours. At a certain city they were 
obhged to wait several hours between trains, so this old 
man took advantage of the opportunity to stroll about and 
see the sights of the place. After a while he pulled out his 
3° 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

watch and found he had barely time to get back to the 
station before the train was due to leave. Accordingly he 
rushed to a hack stand and called out to the first driver he 
came to, who happened to be a white man : " Hurry up an' 
take me to the station, I's gotta get the 4:32 train!" To 
which the white hack driver replied: "I ain't never drove 
a nigger in my hack yit an' I ain't goin' ter begin now. 
You can git a nigger driver ter take ye down!" 

To this the old colored man replied with perfect good 
nature: "All right, my frien', we won't have no misunder- 
standing or trouble; I'll tell you how we'll settle it: you 
jest hop in on der back seat an' do der ridin' and I'll set in 
front an' do der drivin'." In this way they reached the 
station amicably and the old man caught his train. Like 
this old Negro, Mr. Washington always devoted his 
energies to catching the train, and it made little difference 
to him whether he sat on the front or the back seat. 

A few months later, to the five thousand people of his 
own race in the Harlem Casino in New York City, he de- 
scribed their daily lives, their problems, perplexities, and 
temptations in terms as homely, as picturesque, and as 
vivid as he used in talking to the Georgia farmers. He 
urged them, just as he did the farmers, to stop moving 
about and to settle down — "to stop staying here and there 
and everywhere and begin to live somewhere." He urged 
them to leave the little mechanical job of window washing, 
or what not, and go into business for themselves, even if 
they could only afford a few newspapers or peanuts to start 
with. He told of a certain New York street where he had 

31 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

found all the people on one side of a row of push carts were 
selling something, while all the people on the other side 
were buying something. Those that were selling were 
white people, while those that were buying were colored 
people. That, he said, was a color line they had drawn 
themselves. He reminded them of the high cost of living, 
and by way of example he commented upon the expense 
of having to buy so many shoes. He said: "Up here you 
not only have to have good, expensive shoes, but you have 
to wear them all the time." And then he reminded them 
how back in the country down South, before they came to 
the city, they would buy a pair of shoes at Christmas and 
after Christmas put them away in the " chist " and not take 
them out again until "big meeting day," and then wear 
them only in the meeting and not walking to and from the 
church. And as he concluded with the words, "Under 
those conditions shoes last a long time," people all over the 
audience were chuckling and nudging and winking at one 
another as people will when characteristic incidents in their 
past lives are graphically recalled to them. 

Then he described the almost innumerable temptations 
to spend money which the city offers. Some of the store 
windows are so enticing that, as he said, "the dollars al- 
most jump out of your pockets as you go by on the side- 
walk." "Then you men working for rich men here in the 
city smell the smoke of so many twenty-five-cent cigars 
that after a while you feel as though you must smoke 
twenty-five-cent cigars. You don't stop to think that 
when the grandfathers of those very men first came from 
32 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

the country a hundred years ago they smoked two-for-five 
cigars." Then he told of a family he had found living on 
the tenth story of an electric-lighted, steam-heated apart- 
ment house with elevator service, and this very family only 
two years before was living in a two-room cabin in the 
Yazoo Valley on the Mississippi bottoms. And he com- 
mented: "Now, that family's in danger. No people can 
change as much and as fast as that without great danger!" 

Next he touched on the high rents and said: "You 
mothers know that sooner or later you have to take in 
roomers to help pay that rent, and after a while you take in 
Tom, Dick, or Harry, or anybody who's got the money re- 
gardless of who or what they are, and you mothers know 
the danger that spells for your daughters." (At this point 
he was interrupted by a chorus of " amens " from women 
all over the great hall.) He continued: "Now, you take 
the 'old man' aside an' tell him straight, you're not going 
to have any more roomers hanging round your house — 
that he's got to hustle for a better job or go into some little 
business for himself, or move out into some little cottage in 
the country, or do something to get rid of those Tom, Dick, 
and Harry roomers." 

In short, in this speech Mr. Washington showed that he 
knew just as intimately the lives of his people in the flats of 
Greater New York as on the farms of southwestern 
Georgia. 

In spite of his grasp of details Mr. Washington never 
became so immersed in them as to lose sight of his ultimate 
goal, and conversely he never became so blinded by the 

33 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

vision of his ultimate goal as to overlook details. The 
solution of the so-called Negro problem in America, he felt, 
is to be found along these Hnes: As his people have more 
and more opportunity for training and become better and 
better trained they become more and more self-sufficient. 
They are developing their own carpenters, masons, black- 
smiths, farmers, merchants, and bankers as well as law- 
yers, teachers, preachers, and physicians. These trained 
people naturally, for the most part, serve their own race, 
and to them the members of the race naturally turn for 
the service that each is equipped to render. As they 
acquire wealth, education, and cultivation, the persons 
possessing these advantages naturally intermingle socially 
and build up a society from which the rough, ignorant, and 
uncouth of their own race are as inevitably excluded as are 
such persons from all polite social intercourse of whatever 
people. These Negroes of education and cultivation no 
more desire to force themselves into the society of the 
other race than do any persons of real education and 
cultivation desire to go where they are not wanted. As 
the race increases in wealth and culture it becomes more 
and more easy and natural for its successful members to 
satisfy their social desires and ambitions in their own 
society. Already in the centres of Negro prosperity and 
culture it would be almost, if not quite, as impossible for 
a white man to be received mto the best Negro society as 
it would for a Negro to be received into the best white 
society. This growing independence and self-sufficiency 
in the trades, the professions, and social intercourse leads 
34 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

inevitably, as he pointed out, to a form of natural segrega- 
tion based upon economic needs and social preferences, 
and in conformity to the laws of nature, which is a very 
different matter from the artificial and arbitrary segrega- 
tion forced upon unwilling people by the laws of men. 
Under these conditions the disputes as to whether the 
best society of the blacks is inferior or superior to the best 
society of the whites becomes as academic and futile as 
would be similar contentions as to whether the best society 
of Constantinople is inferior or superior to that of Boston. 

While Negroes are more and more drawing apart from 
the whites into their own section of the city, town, or 
county they nevertheless find it a source of strength to live 
near the whites in order that they may have the benefit of 
their aid in those matters in which the older and stronger 
race excels. Nor is this an entirely one-sided advantage, 
as there are not a few matters in which the Negroes have 
natural advantages over the whites and hence may render 
them useful service. Thus the two races, socially sep- 
arated but economically interdependent, may to mutual 
advantage live side by side. 

Some persons claim that any such plan of race adjust- 
ment, while theoretically plausible and ideally desirable, is 
nevertheless practically impossible. They contend that 
no so radically different races have ever lived side by side 
in harmony and each aiding the other. However that may 
be, there remains the fact that such a harmonious and 
mutually helpful relationship between the two races does 
already exist in the town of Tuskegee, throughout Macon 

35 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

County, and in many other of the more progressive lo- 
cahties throughout the South to-day. And at the same 
time, the lynchings and riots and other manifestations of 
racial conflict are continuously if slowly growing less fre- 
quent. Whatever may be the relative strength of the two 
theories, the facts are lining up in support of the Booker 
Washington prophecy at the Atlanta Exposition when he 
said: "In all things that are purely social we can be as 
separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things 
essential to mutual progress." 

During the last twenty years of his life Mr. Washington 
came more and more to be regarded as the representative 
and spokesman of his race, and was invited to represent 
and speak for them at such national and international 
gatherings as the annual conventions of the National 
Negro Business League, of which he was the president and 
founder; the great meeting in honor of the brotherhood of 
man, held in Boston in 1897; the Presbyterian rally for 
Home Missions, at which President Grover Cleveland 
presided; the International Sunday-school Convention 
held in Chicago in 1914; the meeting of the National 
Educational Association in St. Louis in 1904; the Thanks- 
giving Peace Jubilee in the Chicago Auditorium at the close 
of the war with Spain in 1898, with President McKinley and 
his Cabinet in attendance; the Commencement exercises 
at Harvard in 1896, when President Eliot conferred upon 
him the degree of Master of Arts; the International Con- 
ference on the Negro, held at Tuskegee in 191 2, with repre- 
sentatives present from Europe, Africa, the West Indies, 
36 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

and South America, as well as all sections of the United 
States. Dartmouth College conferred his Doctorate upon 
him in 1901. 

At Harvard in 1896 President Eliot, with these words, 
conferred upon Mr. Washington the first honorary degree 
ever conferred by a great university upon an American 
Negro: "Teacher, wise helper of his race; good servant of 
God and country." In his speech delivered at the Alumni 
Dinner on the same day Mr. Washington brought this 
message to Harvard: "If through me, an humble repre- 
sentative, seven millions of my people in the South might 
be permitted to send a message to Harvard — Harvard that 
offered up on death's altar young Shaw, and Russell, and 
Lowell, and scores of others, that we might have a free and 
united country — that message would be: 'Tell them that 
the sacrifice was not in vain. Tell them that by the way 
of the shop, the field, the skilled hand, habits of thrift and 
economy, by way of industrial school and college, we are 
coming. We are crawling up, working up, yea, bursting 
up. Often through oppression, unjust discrimination, and 
prejudice, but through them all we are coming up, and 
with proper habits, intelligence, and property, there is no 
power on earth that can permanently stay our progress!' " 

The next year at the great meeting in honor of the 
brotherhood of man held in Music Hall, Boston, which con- 
cluded with the unveiling of the monument of Robert 
Gould Shaw, Booker Washington in concluding his ad- 
dress turned to the one-armed color bearer of Colonel 
Shaw's regiment and said: "To you, to the scarred and 

37 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

scattered remnants of the Fifty-fourth, who with empty 
sleeve and wanting leg have honored this occasion with 
your presence — to you, your commander is not dead. 
Though Boston erected no monument, and history re- 
corded no story, in you and the loyal race which you repre- 
sent Robert Gould Shaw will have a monument which 
time cannot wear away." 

In his speech at the Peace Jubilee exercises after the war 
with Spain, Mr. Washington said : "When you have gotten 
the full story of the heroic conduct of the Negro in the 
Spanish-American War — heard it from the lips of Northern 
soldiers and Southern soldiers, from ex-abolitionist and ex- 
master — then decide within yourselves whether a race that 
is thus willing to die for its country should not be given the 
highest opportunity to live for its country." And again in 
the same speech, after rehearsing the successes of American 
arms, he said: "We have succeeded in every conflict, ex- 
cept the effort to conquer ourselves in the blotting out of 
racial prejudices. . . . Until we thus conquer our- 
selves, I make no empty statement when I say that we 
shall have, especially in the Southern part of our country, a 
cancer gnawing at the heart of the Republic that shall one 
day prove as dangerous as an attack from an army without 
or within." Note this as the language of a man on a great 
national occasion who has been accused of a time-serving 
acquiescence in the injustices which his race suffers! 

In his address before the National Educational Associa- 
tion in St. Louis, in 1904, he made the following remarks 
which are typical of points he sought to emphasize when 
38 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

addressing audiences of white people: "Let me free your 
minds, if I can, from possible fear and apprehension in two 
directions: the Negro in this country does not seek, as a 
race, to exercise political supremacy over the white man, 
nor is social intermingling with any race considered by the 
Negro to be one of the essentials to his progress. You 
may not know it, but my people are as proud of their 
racial identity as you are of yours, and in the degree that 
they become intelligent, racial pride increases. I was 
never prouder of the fact that I am classed as a Negro than 
I am to-day. ... I can point you to groups of my 
people in nearly every part of our country that in intelli- 
gence and high and unselfish purpose of their school and 
church life, and in the purity and sweetness of their home 
life and social intercourse, wdl compare favorably with the 
races of the earth. You can never lift any large section of 
people by continually calling attention to their weak 
points. A race, like a child in school, needs encourage- 
ment as well as chastisement." 

In his address before the annual session of 1914 of the 
National Negro Business League at Muskogee, Oklahoma, 
Mr. Washington made the following remarks which are 
typical of his points of chief emphasis in addressing his own 
people: "Let your success thoroughly eclipse your short- 
comings. We must give the world so much to think and talk 
about that relates to our constructive work in the direction 
of progress that people will forget and overlook our failures 
and shortcomings. . . . One big, definite fact in the di- 
rection of achievement and construction will go farther in 

39 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

securing rights and removing prejudice than many printed 
pages of defense and explanation. . . . Let us in the 
future spend less time talking about the part of the city 
that we cannot live in, and more time in making that 
part of the city that we can Hve in beautiful and attrac- 
tive. 

It is characteristic of the kind of criticism to which Mr. 
Washington was subjected that a certain element of the 
Negro press violently denounced this comment as an in- 
direct endorsement of the legal segregation of Negroes. 
Probably the last article written by Mr. Washington for 
any publication was the one published posthumously by 
the New Republic, New York City, December 4, 1915, en- 
titled, "My View of Segregation Laws," in which he 
stated in no uncertain terms his views on the segregation 
laws which were being passed in the South. In concluding 
his article, he said: 

"Summarizing the matter in the large, segregation is ill- 
advised because: 

1. It is unjust. 

2. It invites other unjust measures. 

3. It will not be productive of good, because practically 
every thoughtful Negro resents its injustice and doubts its 
sincerity. Any race adjustment based on injustice finally 
defeats itself. The Civil War is the best illustration of 
what results where it is attempted to make wrong right or 
seem to be right. 

4. It is unnecessary. 

5. It is inconsistent. The Negro is segregated from his 
40 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

white neighbor, but white business men are not prevented 
from doing business in Negro neighborhoods. 

6. There has been no case of segregation of Negroes in 
the United States that has not widened the breach between 
the two races. Wherever a form of segregation exists it 
will be found that it has been administered in such a way as 
to embitter the Negro and harm more or less the moral 
fibre of the white man. That the Negro does not express 
this constant sense of wrong is no proof that he does not 
feel it. 

"It seems to me that the reasons given above, if care- 
fully considered, should serve to prevent further passage 
of such segregation ordinances as have been adopted in 
Norfolk, Richmond, Louisville, Baltimore, and one or two 
cities in South Carolina. 

"Finally, as I have said in another place, as white and 
black learn daily to adjust, in a spirit of justice and fair 
play, these interests which are individual and racial, and 
to see and feel the importance of those fundamental in- 
terests which are common, so will both races grow and 
prosper. In the long run, no individual and no race can 
succeed which sets itself at war against the common good; 
for in the gain or loss of one race all the rest have_ equal 
claim." 

In concluding his Muskogee speech he said: "If there 
are those who are inclined to be discouraged concerning 
racial conditions in this country we have but to turn our 
minds in the direction of the deplorable conditions in 
Europe, growing largely out of racial bitterness and fric- 

41 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

tion. When we contrast what has taken place there with 
the peaceful manner in which black people and white 
people are living together in this country, notwithstanding 
now and then there are evidences of injustice and friction, 
which should always be condemned, we have the greatest 
cause for thanksgiving. Perhaps nowhere else in the 
world can be found so many white people living side by 
side with so many of dark skin in so much of peace and 
harmony as in the United States." 

This concluding observation was particularly character- 
istic of him. Somewhere, or somehow, he always turned 
to account all significant events for weal or woe from the 
most trivial personal happenings to the titanic world war. 

Like all great leaders, Booker Washington did the bulk of 
his work quietly in his own office and not on dramatic 
historic occasions before great audiences. He received 
every day, for instance, a huge and varied mail which re- 
quired not only industry to handle, but much judgment, 
patience, and tact to dispose of wisely and adequately. 
We will here mention and quote from a sheaf of letters 
taken at random from his files which partially illustrate the 
range of his interests and the variety of the calls which 
were constantly made upon him. 

A railroad official in Colorado asked his opinion on the 
question of separate schools for white and black children 
apropos of a movement to amend the State constitution so 
as to make possible such separate schools. In his reply 
Mr. Washington said: "As a rule, colored people in the 
Northern States are very much opposed to any plans for 
42 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

separate schools, and I think their feelings in the matter 
deserve consideration. The real objection to separate 
schools, from their point of view, is that they do not like to 
feel that they are compelled to go to one school rather than 
the other. It seems as if it was taking away part of their 
freedom. This feeling is hkely to be all the stronger 
where the matter is made a subject of pubHc agitation. 
On the other hand, my experience is that if this matter is 
left to the discretion of the school officials it usually settles 
itself. As the colored people usually live pretty closely 
together, there will naturally be schools in which colored 
students are in the majority. In that case, the process of 
separation takes place naturally and without the necessity 
of changing the constitution. If you make it a con- 
stitutional question, the colored people are going to be op- 
posed to it. If you leave it simply an administrative 
question, which it really is, the matter will very likely set- 
tle itself." 

We next find a courteous reply to the letter of some poor 
crank who wanted to secure his backing for a preparation 
which he had concocted for taking the curl out of Negroes' 
hair. Then comes a letter to a man who wants to know 
whether it is true that the Negro race is dying out. To 
him Mr. Washington quoted the United States census 
figures for 1910, which indicate an increase of ii-^ per 
cent, in the Negro population for the decade. 

Next, we come upon a letter written to a man who is 
interested in an effort of the Freedman's Aid Society to 
raise a half a million dollars for Negro schools in the South. 

43 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Since this letter so well describes an important phase of 
Booker Washington's leadership we give it almost in full. 
It was written in 1913 and runs thus: 

"I think the most interesting work that Tuskegee has 
done in recent years is its work in rural schools in the 
country surrounding the Institute. During the last five 
or six years forty-seven school buildings have been erected 
in Macon County by colored people themselves. At the 
same time the school term has been lengthened in every 
part of the county from five to eight months. This work 
has been done under the direction of a supervising teacher 
working in connection with the extension department of 
the Institute. 

"Among other things that have been attempted to en- 
courage the people to improve their schools has been a 
model country school started in a community called 
Rising Star, a few miles from the Institute. The school at 
Rising Star is an example of the rural school that Tuskegee 
is seeking to promote. It consists of a five-room frame 
house in which the teachers — a Tuskegee graduate and his 
wife — not only teach, but live. All the rooms are used by 
the school children. In the kitchen they are taught to 
cook, in the dining-room to serve a meal, in the bedroom to 
make the beds. In the garden they are taught how to raise 
vegetables, poultry, pigs, and cows. They recite in the 
sitting-room or on the veranda, and their lessons all deal 
with matters of their own every-day life. . . . In- 
stead of figuring how long it will take an express train to 
reach the moon if it travelled at the rate of forty miles an 
44 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

hour, the pupils figure out how much corn can be raised on 
neighbor Smith's patch of land and how much farmer 
Jones' pig will bring when slaughtered. 

"The pupils learn neatness and cleanhness by living in a 
decent home during their school hours. They carry the 
lesson home, and the result is seen in cleaner and better 
farmhouses. The model school has become the pattern on 
which the farmers and their wives are improving their 
homes. ..." 

Then comes a letter from a poor woman who wants him 
in the course of his travels to look up her husband who 
abandoned her some years before. For purposes of identi- 
fication she says: "This is the hith of him 5-6 light eyes 
dark hair unwave shave and a Suprano Voice his age 58 
his name Steve. ..." Even though Mr. Washing- 
ton did not agree to spend his spare time looking for a dis- 
loyal husband with a soprano voice, he sent the poor 
woman a kind reply and suggested some means of tracing 
her recreant spouse. 

We come next upon a long letter written to a man who 
wishes to quote for publication in a magazine Booker 
Washington's opinion on the relation between crime and 
education. In the concluding paragraphs of his reply Mr. 
Washington says: "In nine cases out of ten the crimes 
which serve to unite and give an excuse for mob violence 
are committed by men who are without property, without 
homes, and without education except what they have 
picked up in the city slums, in prisons, or on the chain 
gang. The South is spending too much money in giving 

45 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

the Negro this kind of education that makes criminals and 
not enough on the kind of schools that turn out farmers, 
carpenters, and blacksmiths. Other things being equal, 
it is true not only in America, in the South, but throughout 
the world, that there is the least crime where there is the 
most education. This is true of the South and of the 
Negro, just the same as it is true of every other race. Par- 
ticularly is it true that the individuals who commit crimes 
of violence and crimes that are due to lack of self-control 
are individuals who are, for the most part, ignorant. The 
decrease in lynching in the Southern States is an index of 
the steady growth of the South in wealth, in industry, in 
education, and in individual liberty." 

Then comes a letter to an individual who desires to know 
what proportion of the American Negroes can read and 
write now, and what proportion could at the time of the 
Civil War. The reply again quotes the 1910 census to the 
effect that 69.5 per cent, can now read and write as com- 
pared with only 3 per cent, at the close of the war. The 
letter also points out that the rate of illiteracy among 
American Negroes is now lower than the rate for all the 
peoples of Russia, Portugal, Brazil, and Venezuela, and al- 
most as low as that of Spain. 

There follows a sheaf of correspondence in which Mr. 
Washington agreed to speak at the unveiling of a tablet in 
Auburn, New York, to the memory of "Aunt Harriet" 
Tubman Davis, the black woman, squat of stature and 
seamed of face, who piloted three or four hundred slaves 
from the land of bondage to the land of freedom. While 
46 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

there he also agreed to speak at Auburn prison in response 
to the special request of some of the prisoners. 

Then we find a courteous but firmly negative reply to a 
long-winded bore who writes a six-page letter urging Mr. 
Washington to secure the acceptance by the Negro race of 
a flag which he has designed as their racial flag. 

After this follows a group of letters which passed between 
him and the late Edgar Gardiner Murphy, author of "The 
Present South," "The Basis of Ascendency," and other 
important books. In one of these letters Mr. Washington 
agrees, as requested, to read the proofs of "The Basis of 
Ascendency," and in another he thus characteristically 
comments upon Mr. Murphy's fears that a pessimistic 
book on the status of the Negro written by a supposed 
authority (a colored man) would do wide-reaching harm: 
"Of course among a certain element it will have an in^ 
fluence for harm, but human nature, as I observe it, is so 
constructed that it does not take kindly to a description of 
a failure. It is hard to get up enthusiasm in connection 
with a funeral procession. No man, in my opinion, could 
write a history of the Southern Confederacy that would be 
read generally because it failed. I am not saying, of 

course, that the Negro race is a failure. Mr. • 

writes largely from that point of view, hence there is no 
rallying point for the general reader." 

In reply to a Western university professor who had asked 
his opinion of amalgarnation as a solution of the race 
problem he wrote: "I have never looked upon amalgama- 
tion as off"ering a solution of the so-called race problem, and 

47 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

I know very few Negroes who favor it or even think of it, 
for that matter. What those whom I have heard discuss 
the matter do object to are laws which enable the father to 
escape his responsibihty, or prevent him from accepting 
and exercising it, when he has children by colored women. 
I think this answers your question, but since there seems 
to be some misunderstanding as to how colored people feel 
about this subject, I might say in explanation of what I 
have already said: The Negroes in America are, as you 
know, a mixed race. If that is an advantage we have it; if 
it is a disadvantage, it is still ours, and for the simple reason 
that the product of every sort of racial mixture between the 
black man and any other race is always a Negro and never 
a white man, Indian, or any other sort of man. 

"The Negro in America is defined by the census as a 
p^son who is classed as such in the community in which he 
or she resides. In other words, the Negro in this country 
is not so much of a particular color or particular racial 
stock as one who shares a particular condition. It is the 
fact that they all share in this condition which creates a 
cause of common sympathy and binds the members of the 
race together in spite of all differences." 

To an embarrassing question put by the society editor 
of some paper Mr. Washington replied by merely telling a 
funny story the application of which to the impertinent 
inquiry was obvious. In another letter he summed up his 
opinion of the much-mooted question of the franchise in 
these two sentences : "There is no reason why every Negro 
who is not fitted to vote should not be disfranchised. At 
48 - 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

the same time, there is no good reason why every white man 
who is not fitted to vote should not also be disfranchised." 

From the foregoing correspondence it will be seen that 
one of Booker Washington's many roles was to act as a 
kind of plenipotentiary and interpreter between his people 
and the dominant race. For this part he was peculiarly 
fitted by his thorough understanding of and sympathy for 
each race. 

Theodore Roosevelt, immediately after taking the oath 
of ofiice as President of the United States, in Buffalo after 
the death of President McKinley, wrote Mr. Washington 
the following note: 

[Copy] 

Executive Mansion 

Washington 

Buffalo, N. Y., 
Sept. 14, 1901. 

My Dear Mr. Washington: 

I write you at once to say that to my deep regret my 
visit South must now be given up. 

When are you coming North ? I must see you as soon as 
possible. I want to talk over the question of possible ap- 
pointments in the South exactly on the lines of our last 
conversation together. 

I hope that my visit to Tuskegee is merely deferred for a 
short season. 

Faithfully yours, 

(Signed) Theodore Roosevelt. 
Booker T. Washington, Esq., 
Tuskegee, Alabama. 

49 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

This deferred visit finally took place in 1905, not long 
after Colonel Roosevelt's triumphant election to the 
Presidency, when he came to Tuskegee accompanied by 
his secretary, William Loeb, Jr.; Federal Civil Service 
Commissioner, John McThenny; Collector of Revenue 
for the Birmingham District, J. 0. Thompson; Judge 
Thomas G. Jones of Montgomery, and a fellow Rough 
Rider by the name of Greeneway. 

In response to the above note Mr. Washington went 
to the White House and discussed with the President 
"possible future appointments in the South " along the lines 
agreed upon between them in a conference which they had 
had at a time when it had seemed possible that Mr. Roose- 
velt might be given the Republican Presidential nomina- 
tion of igoo, that is, while Mr. Roosevelt was Governor of 
New York and a tentative candidate for the nomination. 

Upon his return to Tuskegee after this talk with Presi- 
dent Roosevelt, Mr. Washington found that the judge- 
ship for the Southern District of Alabama had just be- 
come vacant through the death of the incumbent. Judge 
Bruce. Here was an opportunity for the President to 
put into practice in striking fashion the policy they had 
discussed — namely, to appoint to Federal posts in the 
Southern States the best men available and to reward 
and recognize conspicuous merit among Southern Demo- 
crats and Southern Negroes as well as among Southern 
white Republicans. Being unable at the moment to 
return to Washington, he sent his secretary, Emmett 
J. Scott, with the following letter: 
SO 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

Tuskegee, Alabama, 
October 2, 1901. 
President Theodore Roosevelt, Washington, D. C. 

My Dear Mr. President: I send you the following 
information through my secretary, Mr. Emmett J. Scott, 
whom you can trust imphcitly. 

Judge Bruce, the Judge of the Middle District of 
Alabama, died yesterday. There is going to be a very 
hard scramble for his place. I saw ex-governor T. G. 
Jones yesterday, as I promised, and he is willing to accept 
the judgeship of the Middle District of Alabama. I am 
more convinced now than ever that he is the proper man 
for the place. He has until recently been president of 
the Alabama State Bar Association. He is a Gold Demo- 
crat, and is a clean, pure man in every respect. He stood 
up in the Constitutional Convention and elsewhere for a 
fair election law, opposed lynching, and he has been out- 
spoken for the education of both races. He is head and 
shoulders above any of the other persons who I think will 
apply for the position. 

Yours truly, 

Booker T. Washington. 

P. S. — I do not believe in all the South you could select 
a better man through whom to emphasize your idea of the 
character of a man to hold office than you can do through 
ex-governor Jones. 

[Copy] 

Mr. Scott described what occurred on his delivery of 
this letter in the following report to his chief: 

Washington, D. C, 

October ^, 1901. 
My Dear Mr. Washington: I called to see the Presi- 
dent this morning. I found him all cordiality and brim- 
Si 



BCX)KER T. WASHINGTON 

ming over with good will for you. That pleased me much! 
He had received the telegram and had made an appoint- 
ment for me. He read your letter, inquired if I knew the 
contents, and then launched into a discussion of it. 
Wanted to know if Governor Jones supported Bryan in 
either campaign. I told him no. He wanted to know how 
I knew. I told him of the letter wherein he (Governor 
Jones) stated to you that he was without political am- 
bition because he had opposed Bryan, etc. Well, he said 
he wanted to hear from you direct as to whether he had 
or not, and asked me to write you to find out. I am now 
awaiting that wire so as to call again on him. As soon 
as I see him again I will wire you and write you as to what 
he says. He is going to appoint Governor Jones. That 
was made apparent. While I was waiting to see him 
Senator Chandler with the Spanish Claims Commission 
called. They saw him first. I heard the talk, however, 
which was mostly felicitation. Incidentally, however. 
Senator Chandler said that the Commission was afraid 
it would lose one of its members because of the vacancy 
in Alabama, referring to Hon. W. L. Chambers, who was 
present and who is a member of the Commission. The 
President laughed heartily. Said the Senator always 
sprung recommendations unexpectedly, and so forth and 
so forth. He did not inquire as to any of the others — 
the applicants — seemed interested only to find out about 
Governor Jones. . . . There were many correspon- 
dents there at the door, but I told them I was passing 
through to Buffalo, but had stopped over to invite the 
President to include Tuskegee in his itinerary when he 
goes South again. . . . Will write again when I see 
the President again. 

Yours sincerely, 
(Signed) Emmett J. ScoTT. 

52 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

As soon as he had received Dr. Washington's telegram 
in reply, Mr. Scott went again to the White House and 
wrote thus of his second call : 

[Copy] 

Washington, D. C, 
October 5, 1901. 
My Dear Mr. Washington : You have my telegram of 
to-day. I sent it as soon as I had seen the President. I 
had a three-hour wait to see him and it was tiresome, but 
I "camped with them." When admitted to the general 
reception room the President met me and was cordial 
and asked me to wait awhile, till he could dismiss two 
delegations, then he invited me into the office, or cabinet 
room, and read very carefully the telegram received from 
you last night — Friday night. His face was a study. 
He was greatly surprised to learn that the Governor 
voted for Bryan, and walked about considerably. At 
last he said, "Well, I guess I'll have to appoint him, but 
I am awfully sorry he voted for Bryan." He then asked 
me who Dr. Crum* is and I told him that he was a clean 
representative character, and that he was favorably con- 
sidered by Harrison for the Charleston postmastership, 
etc. He did not know him and asked me what place 
was referred to. You had not discussed it with me, but 
I told him you most likely referred to the place made 
vacant by the death of Webster. He then called Mr. 
Cortelyou, Secretary, into the office and asked him if he 
knew Crum. He said he didn't but that he had heard of 

*This refers to a suggestion made by Mr. Washington in his telegram recom- 
mending the appointment of Dr. W. D. Crum, a colored physician, to a South 
Carolina vacancy, so that the President could thereby announce at the same 
time the appointment of a first-grade Southern white Democrat and a first- 
class colored man. 

S3 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

him and always favorably. The President then asked 
Cortelyou what place a man named B. was being con- 
sidered for, and he said the place made vacant by Web- 
ster's death. He then turned to me and said that he 
was sorry, that he would certainly have considered the 
matter if he had had your word earlier. He asked me 
to tell you that if you wish Dr. Crum considered for any 
other place that he will be glad to have you communicate 
with him. I then asked him what I should tell you in 
the Governor Jones' matter, and he said: "Tell Mr. 
Washington without using my name that party will 
most likely be appointed — in fact I will appoint him — 
only don't make it that strong by wire." So I consider 
the matter closed. 

The colored brethren here are scared. They don't 
know what to expect, and the word has passed, they say, 
that you are the "Warwick" so far as they are concerned. 
I hope to find you well in Chicago. 
Sincerely yours, 

(Signed) Emmett J. Scott. 

This precedent-breaking appointment of a Southern 
Democrat by a Republican President, made primarily 
on the recommendation of Booker Washington and 
Grover Cleveland, was acclaimed with enthusiastic 
approval by all Democrats everywhere, and in fact 
there was no dissenting voice except from the office- 
holding Southern Republicans who naturally resented 
this encroachment upon what they regarded as their 
patronage rights. At first appreciation was almost 
universal of the efforts of the Negro leader in helping a 
Republican President to make this far-reaching change in 
54 



LEADER OF HIS RACE 

the Federal officeholdlng traditions of the South. Soon, 
however, some Southern newspapers began to question 
the wisdom of allowing a Negro to have even an advisory 
voice in political matters notwithstanding his advice had 
in this instance been so acceptable to the South. This 
criticism grew so insistent that Judge Jones found himself in 
an uncomfortable position because his appointment had 
been made, in large part, on the recommendation of a Negro. 
He tried to soften the situation by giving out a statement 
to the effect that his endorsement by representative white 
men would probably have assured his appointment even 
without the assistance of Booker Washington. Later, 
however, the Judge expressed to Mr. Scott privately, 
after listening with deep interest to the recital of all the 
incidents connected with his appointment, his apprecia- 
tion of what Booker Washington had done for him. 

Aside from this appointment, Booker Washington had 
a voice in many others, including those of Gen. R. D. 
Johnson as Receiver of Public Moneys at Birmingham, 
Colonel Thomas R. Roulhac as United States District 
Judge, and Judge Osceola Kyle of Alabama as United 
States District Attorney in the Panama Canal Zone. 
During the administrations of both Presidents Roosevelt 
and Taft hardly an office of consequence was conferred 
upon a Negro without first consulting Mr. Washington. 
He did not strive through his influence with Presidents 
Roosevelt and Taft to increase the number of Negro 
appointees, but rather to raise the personnel of Negro 
officeholders. During the period when his advice was 

55 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

most constantly sought at the White House, Charles 
W. Anderson was appointed Collector of Internal Revenue 
for the Second District of New York City; J. C. Napier 
of Nashville, Tenn., became Register of the Treasury; 
William H. Lewis of Boston was appointed successively 
Assistant United States District Attorney and Assistant 
Attorney-General of the United States; Robert H. Terrell 
was given a Municipal Judgeship of the District of Colum- 
bia; Whitefield McKinlay was made Collector of the Port 
for the Georgetown District, District of Columbia; Dr. W. 
D. Crum was appointed Collector of Customs for the Port 
of Charleston, S. C. ; Ralph W. Tyler, Auditor for the Navy 
Department at Washington, D. C. ; James A. Cobb, Special 
Assistant U. S. Attorney in charge of the enforcement 
of the Pure Food Law for the District of Columbia, and 
Charles A. Cottrell, Collector of Internal Revenue for 
the District of Hawaii at Honolulu. In all these notably 
excellent appointments Mr. Washington had a voice. 

In 1903, in commenting on a speech of Mr. Washing- 
ton's in which he had emphasized the importance of 
quality rather than quantity in Negro appointments. Presi- 
dent Roosevelt wrote him as follows : 

My Dear Mr. Washington : Th at is excellent ; and you 
have put epigrammatically just what I am doing — that is, 
though I have rather reduced the quantity I have done 
my best to raise the quality of the Negro appointments. 
With high regard. 

Sincerely yours, 

Theodore Roosevelt. 

56 



CHAPTER THREE 

WASHINGTON: THE EDUCATOR 

THE Tuskegee Commencement exercises dramatize edu- 
cation. They enable plain men and women to visual- 
ize in the concrete that vague word which means so 
little to them in the abstract. More properly they 
dramatize the identity between real education and 
actual life. On the platform before the audience is a 
miniature engine to which steam has been piped, a minia- 
ture frame house in course of construction, and a piece 
of brick wall in process of erection. A young man in jump- 
ers comes onto the platform, starts the engine and blows 
the whistle, whereupon young men and women come hur- 
rying from all directions, and each turns to his or her ap- 
pointed task. A young carpenter completes the little 
house, a young mason finishes the laying of the brick wall, 
a young farmer leads forth a cow and milks her in full 
view of the audience, a sturdy blacksmith shoes a horse, 
and after this patient, educative animal has been shod he 
is turned over to a representative of the veterinary divi- 
sion to have his teeth filed. At the same time on the op- 
posite side of the platform one of the girl students is hav- 
ing a dress fitted by one of her classmates who is a dress- 
maker. She at length walks proudly from the platform 

57 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

in her completed new gown, while the young dressmaker 
looks anxiously after her to make sure that it "hangs right 
behind." Other girls are doing washing and ironing with 
the drudgery removed in accordance with advanced Tus- 
kegee methods. Still others are hard at work on hats, 
mats, and dresses, while boys from the tailoring depart- 
ment sit crosslegged working on suits and uniforms. In 
the background are arranged the finest specimens which 
scientific agriculture has produced on the farm and me- 
chanical skill has turned out in the shops. The pumpkin, 
potatoes, corn, cotton, and other agricultural products 
predominate, because agriculture is the chief industry 
at Tuskegee just as it is among the Negro people of the 
South. 

This form of commencement exercise is one of Booker 
Washington's contributions to education which has been 
widely copied by schools for whites as well as blacks. 
That it appeals to his own people is eloquently attested by 
the people themselves who come in ever-greater numbers 
as the commencement days recur. At three o'clock in 
the morning of this great day vehicles of every description, 
each loaded to capacity with men, women, and children, 
begin to roll in in an unbroken line which sometimes ex- 
tends along the road for three miles. Some of the teachers 
at times objected to turning a large area of the Insti- 
tute grounds into a hitching-post station for the horses 
and mules of this great multitude, but to all such objec- 
tions Mr. Washington repHed, "This place belongs to the 
people and not to us." Less than a third of these eight 
58 











,*'^ 




•'^ k ^':. -^^- 

^ i 







o 



^ 



THE EDUCATOR 

to nine thousand people are able to crowd into the chapel 
to see the actual graduation exercises, but all can see the 
graduation procession as it marches through the grounds 
to the chapel and all are shown through the shops and over 
the farm and through the special agricultural exhibits, 
and even through the offices, including that of the prin- 
cipal. It is significant of the respect in which the people 
hold the Institute, and in which they held Booker Wash- 
ington, that in all these years there has never been on these 
occasions a single instance of drunkenness or disorderly 
conduct. 

In his annual report to the trustees for 1914 Mr. Wash- 
ington said of these commencement exercises: "One of the 
problems that constantly confronts us is that of making 
the school of real service to these people on this one day 
when they come in such large numbers. For many of 
them it is the one day in the year when they go to school, 
and we ought to find a way to make the day of additional 
value to them. I very much hope that in the near future 
we shall find it possible to erect some kind of a large pa- 
vilion which shall serve the purpose of letting these thou- 
sands see something of our exercises and be helped by them." 

The philosophy symbolized by such graduation exer- 
cises as we have described may best be shown by quoting 
Mr. Washington's own words in an article entitled, "In- 
dustrial Education and the Public Schools," which was 
published in the Annals of the American Academy of Polit- 
ical and Social Science for September of the year 191 3. 
In this article Mr. Washington says: "If I were asked 

59 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

what I believe to be the greatest advance which Negro 
education has made since emancipation I should say that 
it has been in two directions: first, the change which has 
taken place among the masses of the Negro people as to 
what education really is; and, second, the change that has 
taken place among the masses of the white people in the 
South toward Negro education itself. 

"I can perhaps make clear what I mean by a little ex- 
planation: the Negro learned in slavery to work but he 
did not learn to respect labor. On the contrary, the Negro 
was constantly taught, directly and indirectly during 
slavery times, that labor was a curse. It was the curse 
of Canaan, he was told, that condemned the black man to 
be for all time the slave and servant of the white man. 
It was the curse of Canaan that made him for all time 
*a hewer of wood and drawer of water.' The consequence 
of this teaching was that, when emancipation came, the 
Negro thought freedom must, in some way, mean freedom 
from labor. 

"The Negro had also gained in slavery some general 
notions in regard to education. He observed that the 
people who had education for the most part belonged to 
the aristocracy, to the master class, while the people who 
had little or no education were usually of the class known 
as 'pcor whites.' In this way education became asso- 
ciated in his mind with leisure, with luxury, and freedom 
from the drudgery of work with the hands. . . . 

"In order to make it possible to put Negro education 
on a sound and rational basis it has been necessary to 
60 



THE EDUCATOR 

change the opinion of the masses of the Negro people in 
regard to education and labor. It has been necessary to 
make them see that education, which did not, directly or 
indirectly, connect itself with the practical daily interests 
of daily hfe could hardly be called education. It has been 
necessary to make the masses of the Negroes see and 
realize the necessity and importance of applying what 
they learned in school to the common and ordinary things 
of life; to see that education, far from being a means of 
escaping labor, is a means of raising up and dignifying 
labor and thus indirectly a means of raising up and dig- 
nifying the common and ordinary man. It- has been 
necessary to teach the masses of the people that the way 
to build up a race is to begin at the bottom and not at the 
top, to lift the man furthest down, and thus raise the whole 
structure of society above him. jDn the other hand, it 
has been necessary to demonstrate to the white man in the 
South that education does not 'spoil' the Negro, as it has 
been so often predicted that it would. It was necessary 
to make him actually see that education makes the 
Negro not an idler or spendthrift, but a more industrious, 
thrifty, law-abiding, and useful citizen than he otherwise 
would be." 

The commencement exercises which we have described 
are one of the numerous means evolved by Booker Washing- 
ton to guide the masses of his own people, as well as the 
Southern whites, to a true conception of the value and 
meaning of real education for the Negro. 

The correlation between the work of farm, shop, and 

6i 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

classroom, first applied by General Armstrong at Hamp- 
ton, was developed on an even larger scale by his one-time 
student, Booker Washington. The students at Tuskegee 
are divided into two groups : the day students who work 
in the classroom half the week and the other half on the 
farm and in the shops, and the night students who work 
all day on the farm or in the shops and then attend school 
at night. The day school students pay a small fee in 
cash toward their expenses, while the night school 
students not only pay no fee but by good and diligent 
work gradually accumulate a credit at the school bank 
which, when it becomes sufficiently large, enables them 
to become day school students. In fact, the great major- 
ity of the day students have thus fought their way in 
from the night school. But all students of both groups 
thus receive in the course of a week a fairly even balance 
between theor^^^ and practice. 

In a corner of each of the shops, in which are carried 
on the forty or more different trades, is a blackboard on 
which are worked out the actual problems which arise in 
the course of the work. After school hours one always 
finds in the shops a certain number of the teachers from 
the Academic Department looking up problems for their 
classes for the next day. A physics teacher may be found 
in the blacksmithing shop digging up problems about the 
tractive strength of wires and the expansion and contrac- 
tion of metals under heat and cold. A teacher of chem- 
istry may be found in the kitchen of the cooking school 
unearthing problems relating to the chemistry of food for 
62 



THE EDUCATOR 

her class the next day. If, on the other hand, you go into 
a classroom you will find the shop is brought into the class- 
room just as the classroom has been brought into the 
shop. For instance, in a certain English class the topic 
assigned for papers was "a model house" instead of 
"bravery" or "the increase of crime in cities," or "the 
landing of the Pilgrims." The boys of the class had pre- 
pared papers on the architecture and construction of a 
model house, while the girls' papers were devoted to its 
interior decoration and furnishing. One of the girls 
described a meal for six which she had actually prepared 
and the six had actually consumed. The meal cost 
seventy-five cents. The discussion and criticism which 
followed each paper had all the zest which vitally prac- 
tical and near-at-hand questions always arouse. 

When the Department of Superintendence of the Na- 
tional Educational Association met in Atlanta, Ga., in 1904, 
many of the delegates, after adjournment, visited the 
Tuskegee Institute. Among these delegates was Prof. 
Paul Monroe of the Department of History and Princi- 
ples of Education of the Teachers' College of Columbia 
University. In recording his impressions of his visit, 
Professor Monroe says: "My interest in Tuskegee and a 
few similar institutions is founded on the fact that here I 
find illustrated the two most marked tendencies which are 
being formulated in the most advanced educational 
thought, but are being worked out slowly and with great 
difficulty. These tendencies are: first, the endeavor to 
draw the subject matter of education, or the 'stuff' of 

63 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

schoolroom work, directly from the life of the pupils; and 
second, to relate the outcome of education to life's activi- 
ties, occupations, and duties of the pupil in such a way that 
the connection is made directly and immediately between 
schoolroom work and the other activities of the person 
being educated. This is the ideal at Tiiskegee, and, to a 
much greater extent than in any other institution I know 
of, the practice; so that the institution is working along 
not only the lines of practical endeavor, but of the most 
advanced educational thought. To such an extent is this 
true that Tuskegee and Hampton are of quite as great in- 
terest to the student of education on account of the illumi- 
nation they are giving to educational theory as they are to 
those interested practically in the elevation of the Negro 
people and in the solution of a serious social problem. 
May I give just one illustration of a concrete nature com- 
ing under my observation while at the school, that will in- 
dicate the difference between the work of the school and 
that which was typical under old conditions, or is yet 
typical where the newer ideas, as so well grasped by Mr. 
Washington, are not accepted ? In a class in English 
composition two boys, among others, had placed their 
written work upon the board, one having written upon 
'Honor' in the most stilted language, with various 
historical references which meant nothing to himself or to 
his classmates— the whole paragraph evidently being 
drawn from some outside source; the other wrote upon 
*My Trade — Blacksmithing' — and told in a simple and 
direct way of his day's work, the nature of the general 
64 



THE EDUCATOR 

course of training, and the use he expected to make of his 
training when completed. No better contrast could be 
found between the old ideas of formal language work, 
dominated by books and cast into forms not understood or 
at least not natural to the youth, and the newer ideas of 
simplicity, directness, and forcefulness in presenting the 
account of one's own experience. Not only was this con- 
trast an illustration of the ideal of the, entire education 
offered at Tuskegee in opposition to that of the old, formal, 
'literary' education as imposed upon the colored race, but 
it gave in a nutshell a concept of the new education. This 
one experience drawn from the life of the boy and related 
directly to his life's duration and circumstances was educa- 
tion in the truest sense; the other was not save as Mr. 
Washington made it so in its failure. 

Among the delegates was also Mr. A. L. Rafter, the 
Assistant Superintendent of Schools of Boston, who in 
speaking at Tuskegee said: "What Tuskegee is doing for 
you we are going to take on home to the North. You are 
doing what we are talking about." In general, these fore- 
most educational experts of the dominant race looked to 
Booker Washington and Tuskegee for leadership instead of 
expecting him or his school to follow them. 

Booker Washington not only practised at Tuskegee this 
close relation between school life and real life — and it is 
being continued now that he is gone — but preached it 
whenever and wherever opportunity offered. Some years 
ago, in addressing himself to those of his own students who 
expected to become teachers, he said on this subject among 

6S 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

other things: ". . . colored parents depend upon 
seeing the results of education in ways not true of the white 
parent. It is important that the colored teacher on this 
account give special attention to bringing school life into 
closer touch with real life. Any education is to my mind 
'high' which enables the individual to do the very best 
work for the people by whom he is surrounded. Any edu- 
cation is 'low' which does not make for character and 
effective service. 

"The average teacher in the public schools is very likely 
to yield to the temptation of thinking that he is educating 
an individual when he is teaching him to reason out ex- 
amples in arithmetic, to prove propositions in geometry, 
and to recite pages of history. He conceives this to be the 
end of education. Herein is the sad deficiency in many 
teachers who are not able to use history, arithmetic, and ge- 
ometry as means to an end. They get the idea that the 
student who has mastered a certain number of pages in a 
textbook is educated, forgetting that textbooks are at 
best but tools, and in many cases ineffective tools, for the 
development of man. 

"The average parent cannot appreciate how many ex- 
amples Johnny has worked out that day, how many 
questions in history he has answered; but when he says, 
'Mother, I cannot go back to that school until all the but- 
tons are sewed on my coat,' the parent will at once become 
conscious of school influence in the home. This will be the 
best kind of advertisement. The button propaganda, 
tends to make the teacher a power in the community. A 
66 



THE EDUCATOR 

few lessons in applied chemistry will not be amiss. Take 
grease spots, for example. The teacher who with tact can 
teach his pupils to keep even threadbare clothes neatly 
brushed and free from grease spots is extending the school 
influence into the home and is adding immeasurably to the 
self-respect of the home."* 

The idea that education is a matter of personal habits of 
cleanliness, industry, integrity, and right conduct while of 
course not original with Booker Washington was perhaps 
further developed and more effectively emphasized by him 
than by any other American education. Just as Matthew 
Arnold insisted that religion was a matter of conduct 
rather than forms and dogmas so Booker Washington held 
that education is a matter of character and not forms. He 
concluded one of his Sunday night talks to his students 
with these words: "I want every Tuskegee student as he 
finds his place in the surging industrial life about him to 
give heed to the things which are 'honest and just and 
pure and of good report,' for these things make for char- 
acter, which is the only thing worth fighting for. . . .' 
In another of these talks he said: "A student should not 
be satisfied with himself until he has grown to the point 
where, when simply sweeping a room, he can go into the 
corners and crevices and remove the hidden trash which, 
although it should be left, would not be seen. It is not 
very hard to find people who will thoroughly clean a room 
which is going to be occupied, or wash a dish which is to be 



•From "Putting the Most Into Life," by Booker T. Washington. Thomas Y. 
Crowell & Co., Publishers. 

67 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

handled by strangers; but it is hard to find a person who 
will do a thing right when the eyes of the world are not 
likely to look upon what has been done. The cleaning of 
rooms and the washing of dishes have much to do with 
forming characters."* 

This recalls Booker Washington's own experience when 
as a ragged and penniless youth he applied for admission 
to Hampton and was given a room to sweep by way of an 
entrance examination. Indeed, one of Booker Washing- 
ton's greatest sources of strength as a teacher lay in the 
fact that his own life not only illustrated the truth of his 
assertions, but illustrated it in a striking and dramatic 
manner. His life was, in fact, an epitome of the hardships, 
struggles, and triumphs of the successful members of his 
race from the days of slavery to the present time. A great 
believer in the power of example he lived a life which gave 
him that power in its highest degree. Because of his in- 
herent modesty and good taste he never referred to him- 
self or his achievements as examples to be emulated, and 
this merely further enhanced their power. 

In concluding another Sunday night talk he said: "As a 
race we are inclined, I fear, to make too much of the day of 
judgment. We have the idea that in some far-off period 
there is going to be a great and final day of judgment, when 
every individual will be called up, and all his bad deeds will 
be read out before him and all his good deeds made known. 
I believe that every day is a day of judgment, that we reap 

*" Sowing and Reaping," by Booker T. Washington. L. C. Page & Co., 
Boston, Publishers. 

68 



THE EDUCATOR 

our rewards daily, and that whenever we sin we are pun- 
ished by mental and physical anxiety and by a weakened 
character that separates us from God. Every day is, I 
take it, a day of judgment, and as we learn God's laws and 
grow into His likeness we shall find our reward in this world 
in a hfe of usefulness and honor. To do this is to have 
found the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of char- 
acter and righteousness and peace."* 

To quote once more from these Sunday night talks, in 
another he said: "There is, then, opportunity for the 
colored people to enrich the material life of their adopted 
country by doing what their hands find to do, minor duties 
though they be, so well that nobody of any race can do 
them better. This is the aim that the Tuskegee student 
should keep steadily before him. If he remembers that 
all service, however lowly, is true service, an important 
step will have been taken in the solution of what we term 
'the race problem.'" 

As is shown by these quotations Booker Washington 
used these Sunday night talks to crystalize, interpret, and 
summarize the meaning and significance of the kind of 
education which Tuskegee gives. He, the supreme head of 
the institution, reserved to himself this supremely im- 
portant task. The heads of the manifold trades are 
naturally and properly concerned primarily with turning 
raw boys and girls into good workmen and workwomen. 
The academic teachers in the school are similarly inter- 



*From " Putting the Most Into Life," by Booker T. Washington. Thomas 
Y. Crowell & Co., Publishers. 

69 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

ested in helping them as students to secure a mastery of 
their several subjects. The mihtary commandants are 
concerned with their ability to drill, march, carry them- 
selves properly, and take proper care of their persons and 
rooms. The physician is interested in their physical 
health and the chaplain in their religious training. Im- 
portant as are all these phases of Tuskegee's training and 
closely as he watched each Mr. Washington realized that 
they might all be well done and yet Tuskegee fail in its 
supreme purpose: namely, the making of manly men and 
womanly women out of raw boys and girls. As he said in 
one of the passages quoted, "character is the only thing 
worth fighting for." Now, while the forming of character is 
the aim, and in some appreciable degree the achievement, of 
every worth-while educational institution, it is to a peculiar 
degree the aim and the achievement of Tuskegee. The 
ten million Negroes in the United States need trained 
leaders of their own race more than they need anything 
else. Whatever else they should or should not have these 
leaders must have character. Since Tuskegee is the 
largest of the educational institutions for Negroes, with the 
man at its head who was commonly recognized as the 
leader of leaders in his race, naturally the heaviest responsi- 
bility in the training of these leaders fell, and will continue 
to fall, upon Tuskegee. Consequently the task at Tuske- 
gee is not so much to educate so many thousands of young 
men and women as to train as many leaders for the Negro 
people as can possibly be done and done well within a 
given space of time. These Tuskegee graduates lead by 
70 



THE EDUCATOR 

the power of example and not by agitation. One runs a 
farm and achieves so much more success than his neigh- 
bors, through his better methods, that they gradually 
adopt these methods and with his help apply them to their 
own conditions. Another teaches a country school and 
does it so much better than the average country school 
teacher that his or her school comes to be regarded as a 
model to be emulated by the other schools of the locality. 
When a Tuskegee girl marries and settles in a community 
she keeps her house so much cleaner and in every way more 
attractive than the rank and file of her neighbors that 
gradually her house and her methods of housekeeping be- 
come the standard for the neighborhood. There is, how- 
ever, nothing of the "holier than thou" or the complaisant 
about the true Tuskegee graduate and neither is there 
anything monopolistic. They have had the idea of service 
thoroughly drilled into their consciousness — the idea that 
their advantages of education are, as it were, a trust which 
they are to administer for the benefit of those who have not 
had such advantages. 

Now such leaders as these must not only be provided if 
the so-called race problem is to be solved, but they must 
be provided speedily. In every community in which the 
black people are ignorant and vicious and without trained 
leaders among themselves they are likely at any time to 
come into conflict with the dominant race, and every such 
conflict engenders bitterness on both sides and makes just 
so much more difficult the final solution of the race prob- 
lem. This is why Booker Washington labored so in- 

71 



BOOKER* T. WASHINGTON 

cessantly to increase the quantity of Tuskegee's output 
as well as to maintain the quality. He brought Tus- 
kegee to the point where it reached through all its courses 
including its summer courses, short courses, and extension 
courses, more than 4,000 people in a single year, not 
counting the well-nigh innumerable hosts he counseled 
with on his State educational tours. In short, Booker 
Washington's task at Tuskegee was not only to turn out 
good leaders for his people, but to turn them out whole- 
sale and as fast as possible. He was, as it were, running a 
race with the powers of ignorance, poverty, and vice. This 
in part accounted for the sense of terrific pressure which 
one felt at Tuskegee, particularly when he was present and 
personally driving forward his great educational machine. 
This also may have accounted for the seeming lack 
of finesse in small matters which occasionally annoyed 
critical visitors who did not understand that the great in- 
stitution was racing under the spur of its indomitable 
master, and that just as in any race all but essentials must 
be thrown aside. 

Long before the University of Wisconsin had, through its 
extension courses, extended its opportunities in greater or 
less degree to the citizens of the entire State, Booker Wash- 
ington, through similar means, had extended the advan- 
tages of Tuskegee throughout Macon County in particular 
and the State of Alabama and neighboring States in general. 

The extension work of Tuskegee began in a small way 
over twenty years ago. It preceded even the work of the 
demonstration agents of the United States Department 
72 



THE EDUCATOR 

of Agriculture. There was first only one man who in his 
spare time went out among the farming people and tried to 
arouse enthusiasm for better methods of farming, better 
schools, and better homes. He was followed by a com- 
mittee of three members of the Tuskegee faculty, which 
committee still directs the work. One of the first eff^orts 
of this committee was to get the farmers to adopt deep 
plowing. There was not a two-horse plow to be found. 
There was a strong prejudice against deep plowing which 
was thus expressed by a Negro preacher farmer whom one 
of the committee tried to persuade: "We don't want deep 
plowing. You're fixin' for us to have no soil. If we plow 
deep it will all wash away and in a year or two we will have 
to clear new ground." Not long after this a member of 
the committee with a two-horse plow was practising what 
he had been preaching when a white planter who was pass- 
ing stopped and said: "See here, its none of my business 
of course, but you're new here and I don't want to see you 
fail. But if you plow your land deep like that you'll ruin 
it sure. I know. I've been here." 

After a time, however, the committee persuaded a few 
colored farmers to try deep plowing on a small scale as an 
experiment. One of the first of these was a poor man who 
had had the hardest kind of a struggle scraping a scant 
existence out of the soil for himself and his large family. 
He was desperate and agreed to try the new method. He 
got results the first year, moved on to better land and fol- 
lowed instructions. In a few years he bought 500 acres of 
land, gave each of his four sons 100 acres, and kept 100 acres 

73 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

for himself. Since then father and sons alike have been 
prosperous and contented and have added to their holdings. 

In short, these Negro farmers were no more eager to be 
reformed and improved in their methods than are any- 
normal people. There is a shallow popular sentiment that 
unless people are eager for enUghtenment and gratefully 
receive what is offered them they should be left unen- 
lightened. Booker Washington never shared this senti- 
ment. His agent reported that in response to their appeals 
for the raising of a better grade of cattle, hogs, and fowl 
the farmers replied that the stock they had was good 
enough. One of their favorite comments was, "When you 
eat an egg what difference does it make to you whether 
that egg was laid by a full-blooded fowl or a mongrel?" 
Instead of being discouraged or disgusted by this attitude 
on the part of the people he merely regarded it as what 
was to be expected and set about devising means to over- 
come it. As always he placed his chief reliance upon the 
persuasive eloquence of the concrete. He decided to send 
blooded stock and properly raised products around among 
the farmers so that they might compare them with their 
Inferior stock and products and see the difference with their 
own eyes. This plan was later carried out through the 
Jesup Wagon contributed by the late Morris K. Jesup of 
New York. This wagon was a peripatetic farmers' school. 
It took a concentrated essence of Tuskegees' agricultural 
department to the farmers who could not or would not 
come to Tuskegee. 

The wagon was drawn by a well-bred and well-fed mule. 
74 



THE EDUCATOR 

A good breed of ccw was tied behind. Several chickens 
of good breeds, well-developed ears of corn, stalks of cotton, 
bundles of oats and seeds, and garden products, which 
ought at the time to be growing in the locality, together 
with a proper plow, for deep plowing, were loaded upon the 
wagon. The driver would pull up before a farmhouse, 
deliver his message, and point out the strong points of his 
wagonload and would finally request a strip of ground for 
cultivation. This request granted he would harness the 
mule to the plow, break the ground deep, make his rows, 
plant his seeds, and move on to the next locality. With a 
carefully planned follow-up system he would return to 
each such plot for cultivation and harvest, and, most im- 
portant of all, to demonstrate the truths he had sought to 
impress upon the people by word of mouth. Where the first 
driver sent out was a general farmer, the second would be, 
let us say, a dairyman, the third a truck gardener, and 
finally a poultry raiser would go; usually a woman, since in 
the South women, for the most part, handle this phase of 
farming. These agents also distribute pamphlets prepared 
by the Agricultural Research Department of Tuskegee on 
such subjects as school gardening, twenty-one ways to 
cook cowpeas, improvement of rural schools, how to fight 
insect pests, cotton growing, etc. The constant emphasis 
upon practice by no means entails any neglect of theory. 
Besides this work there is each January for two weeks at 
Tuskegee the regular Farmers' Short Course. Many of 
the country schools adjourn for this period so that both 
teachers and pupils may attend. In this course not only 

75 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

teachers and pupils, but fathers and mothers, sons and 
daughters sit side by side in the classrooms receiving 
instruction in stock raising, canning, poultry raising, and 
farming in all its branches. There are special courses for 
the women and girls in the care of children and in house- 
keeping. The following breezy announcement is taken 
from the prospectus of this course for the year 1914: 

" A creationof the farmer, by the farmers and for the farmer ." 

"It meets the crying needs of thousands of our boys 
and girls, fathers and mothers. 

" It's free to all — no examination nor entrance fee is required. 

"It started 7 years ago with il students; the second 
year we had 17, the third year we had 70, the fourth year 
we had 490, and last year we had nearly 2,000. It is 
the only thing of its kind for the betterment of the colored 
farmers. It lasts for only 12 days. It comes at a time 
when you would be celebrating Christmas.* In previous 
years the farmers have walked from 3 to 6 miles to attend; 
many have come on horseback, in wagons, and in buggies. 
You who live so that you cannot come in daily can secure 
board near the school for ^2.50 per week. We expect 
2,000 to 2,500 to enter this year." 

And then as a further stimulus to attend there comes : 

"Prizes will be given as follows: 

"A prize of $$ will be given to the person who makes the 
greatest progress on all subjects taught. 

*There is a custom among the colored people, inherited from the days of 
slavery, which is fortunately now drying out, to celebrate Christmas for a period 
of a week or ten days by stopping work and giving themselves over to a round 
of sprees. 

76 



THE EDUCATOR 

"A prize of ^2 will be given to the person who is the best 
judge of livestock. 

"A prize of $1 will be given to the person who shows 
the best knowledge of the use and application of manures 
and fertilizers. And so on through a further list of one- 
dollar prizes for all the major activities of the Course." 

It will be noted that there is nothing stilted or academic 
about this announcement. 

Immediately following this Farmers' Short Course 
comes the Annual Farmers' Conference which holds its 
session in January of each year. To enforce the lessons 
in canning, stock raising, gardening, and all the other 
branches of farming, exhibits of the best products in each 
activity are displayed before the audience of farmers and 
their families, who number in all about 2,000. These 
exhibits are made and explained by the farmers themselves. 
The man, woman, or child who has produced the exhibit 
comes to the platform and explains in his or her own way 
just how it was done. In these explanations much human 
nature is thrown in. An amazingly energetic and capable 
woman had explained at one of these gatherings how she 
had paid off the mortgage on their farm by the proceeds 
from her eggs, her kitchen garden, and her preserving in her 
spare moments when she was not helping her husband in the 
cotton field, washing and dressing her six children, or cook- 
ing, mending, washing, and scrubbing for the household. 

In conclusion she said: 

"Now my ole man he's an' old-fashion farmer an' he 
don' kere fur dese modern notions, an' so I don't git no 

77 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

help from him, an' that makes it hard for me 'cause it 
ain't nat'ral for der woman to lead. If I could only git 
him to move I'd be happier jest ter foller him." While 
these explanations are going on the farmers in the audience 
are naturally saying to themselves over and over again, 
"I could do that!" or "Why couldn't I do that.?" 

One of Mr. Washington's chief aims was to increase the 
wants of his people and at the same time increase their 
ability to satisfy them. In other words, he believed in 
fermenting in their minds what might be termed an effec- 
tive discontent with their circumstances. With this pur- 
pose in view he addressed to them at these conferences such 
questions as the following: 

"What kind of house do you live in.?" 

"Do you own that house.?" 

"What kind of schoolhouse have you.?" 

"Do you send your children to school regularly?" 

"How many months does your school run.?" 

"Do you keep your teacher in the community.?" 

"What kind of church have you.?" 

"Where does your pastor hve?" 

"Are your church, school, and home fences white- 
washed?" 

The farmers who were asked these questions would 
make an inward resolve that they would do what they 
could to put themselves in a position to answer the same 
questions more satisfactorily another year. 

Another feature of the work of Tuskegee beyond its own 
borders is that of the Rural School Extension Department. 
78 



THE EDUCATOR 

Mr. Julius Rosenwald of Chicago, one of the trustees of 
Tuskegee, has offered, through this department, during a 
stated period of time, to add ^300 to every ^300 the Ne- 
groes in rural communities of the South raise for the 
building of a new and modern schoolhouse. Under this 
plan ninety-two modern rural school buildings have al- 
ready been constructed. At the close of the time set Mr. 
Rosenwald will probably renew his offer for a further 
period. The social by-products of this campaign, in 
teaching the Negroes of these communities how to dis- 
regard their denominational and other feuds in working 
together for a high civic purpose of common advantage to 
all, and the friendly interest in Negro education awakened 
among their white neighbors, have been almost if not quite 
as important as the new schools themselves. 

There is also at Tuskegee a summer school for teachers 
in which last year were registered 437 teachers from fifteen 
Southern and several other States. Most of these teachers 
elect such practical subjects as canning, basket-making, 
broom-making, shuck and pine needlework or some form 
of manual training, as well as the teacher-training courses. 
One of these students, who was the supervisor of the 
Negro schools of an entire county, when she returned from 
her summer school work proceeded to vivify her dead 
schools by introducing the making of wash-boards, trash 
baskets, baskets made of weeping-willow, and pine needle 
work in its various forms. The registration soared at 
once, the indifferent Negro parents became interested, 
and before long the parents of white children complained 

79 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

to the county superintendent that the colored children 
were being taught more than their children. 

There is at the present time being developed at Tuskegee 
a unique experiment in the nature of what might be called 
a post-graduate school in real life for the graduates of 
the agricultural department. This consists in providing 
such graduates, who have no property of their own, with 
a forty-acre farm, on an i,8oo-acre tract about nine miles 
from Tuskegee, known as Baldwin Farms, after the late 
Wm. H. Baldwin, Jr., who was one of the ablest and most 
devoted supporters and advisers of Booker Washington 
and Tuskegee. The land is held by the Tuskegee Farm 
and Improvement Company which is conducted on a 
business and not a charitable basis. The company sells 
the farms at an average price of $15 an acre, and purchasers 
who move directly on to the land are given ten years in 
which to pay for it, with the first payment at the end of 
the first year. If there is no house on the land the com- 
pany will put up a ^300 house so planned as to permit 
the addition of rooms and improvements as rapidly as the 
purchaser is able to pay for them; the cost to be added 
to the initial cost of the land. When the graduate lacks 
the money and equipment necessary to plant, raise, and 
harvest crops, for this, too, the company will advance a 
reasonable sum, taking as security a mortgage on crops 
and equipment until the loan has been paid ofF. This 
mortgage bears interest at 8 per cent, while the interest 
on the mortgage on the land is not more than 6 per cent. 
Through cooperative effort within this colony it is pro- 
80 



THE EDUCATOR 

posed to develop such organizations as cooperative dairy, 
fruit growing, poultry, and live-stock associations and 
thus make it possible for the members of the colony to 
make not only a comfortable living but to lay by some- 
thing. They will, of course, have also the great advan- 
tage of the advice and guidance of the experts of the 
Institute. Formerly the penniless Negro youth, who 
graduated even most creditably from the agricultural 
department of Tuskegee, had before him nothing better 
than a greater or less number of years of monotonous 
drudgery as a mere farm or plantation laborer. Now, he 
may at once take up his own farm at Baldwin and begin 
immediately to apply all he has learned in carving out 
his own fortune and future. Thus did Booker Washington 
plan to carry the benefits of classroom instruction directly 
into the actual life problems of these graduates as well as 
bringing the problems of actual life into the classroom. 

However much Mr. Washington may have seemed 
to eliminate non-essentials in the pressure and haste of 
his wholesale educational task he never neglected essen- 
tials, but among essentials he included matters which 
might on the surface appear to be small and trifling. 
For instance, he insisted upon good table manners, and 
no boy or girl could spend any considerable time at 
Tuskegee without acquiring such manners. Instead of 
a trivial detail he regarded good table manners as an 
essential to self-respect and hence to the development of 
character. In short, he was engaged not so much in 
conducting a school as educating a race. 

8 1 



CHAPTER FOUR 

THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

BOOKER WASHINGTON was occasionally accused 
both by agitators in his own race and by a certain 
type of Northern white men who pose as the special 
champions of the "downtrodden" black man as en- 
couraging a policy of submission to injustice on the 
part of his people. He was, for example, charged with 
tame acquiescence in the practical disfranchisement of 
the Negro in a number of the Southern States. As a 
matter of fact, when these disfranchising measures were 
under consideration and before they were enacted, he 
in each case earnestly pleaded with the legislators that 
whatever restrictions in the use of the ballot they put 
upon the statute books should be applied with absolute 
impartiality to both races. This he urged in fairness to 
the white man as well as the black man. 

In an article entitled, "Is the Negro Having a Fair 
Chance?" published in the Century Magazine five years 
ago, Booker Washington said in illustrating the evil 
consequences of discrimination in the application of ballot 
regulations: "In a certain county of Virginia, where 
the county board had charge of registering those who 
were to be voters, a colored man, a graduate of Harvard 
82 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

University, who had long been a resident of the county, 
a quiet, unassuming man, went before the board to 
register. He was refused on the ground that he was not 
intelHgent enough to vote. Before this colored man 
left the room a white man came in who was so intoxicated 
that he could scarcely tell where he lived. This white 
man was registered, and by a board of intelligent white 
men who had taken an oath to deal justly in administering 
the law. 

"Will any one say that there is wisdom or statesman- 
ship in such a policy as that? In my opinion it is a fatal 
mistake to teach the young black man and the young 
white man that the dominance of the white race in the 
South rests upon any other basis than absolute justice 
to the weaker man. It is a mistake to cultivate in the 
mind of any individual or group of individuals the feeling 
and belief that their happiness rests upon the misery of 
some one else, or that their intelligence is measured by the 
ignorance of some one else; or their wealth by the poverty 
of some one else. I do not advocate that the Negro 
make politics or the holding of office an important thing 
in his life. I do urge, in the interest of fair play for 
everybody, that a Negro who prepares himself in prop- 
erty, in intelligence, and in character to cast a ballot, 
and desires to do so, should have the opportunity." 

While Booker Washington did not believe that political 
activities should play an important part among the 
Negroes as a whole he did believe that the exceptional 
Negro who was particularly qualified for holding public 

83 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

office should be given the opportunity just as he believed 
in the higher academic education for the relatively- 
small minority capable of profiting by such an educa- 
tion. 

In concluding a letter in which he asks Booker Wash- 
ington to recommend a member of his race for a Federal 
office in Vicksburg, Miss., President Roosevelt said: 
"The question of the political importance of the colored 
man is really of no consequence. I do not care to con- 
sider it, and you must not consider it. Give me the very 
best colored man that you know of for the place, upon 
whose integrity and capacity we can surely rely." 

The man, T. V. McAIister, whom Mr. Washington 
"gave" the President for this office was of such character 
and reputation that the white citizens of Vicksburg actu- 
ally welcomed his appointment. Certainly neither Vicks- 
burg nor any other portion of Mississippi can be accused 
of over-enthusiasm for conferring civil and political privi- 
leges upon Negroes. 

Booker Washington's habit of never losing an oppor- 
tunity to advance constructively the interests of his 
people is well illustrated by the following letter to Presi- 
dent Roosevelt: 

[Personal] 

March 20, 1904. 
My Dear Mr. President: It has occurred to me that 
there are a number of ways in which the colored people 
of the United States could be of service in digging the 
84 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

Panama Canal, and personally I should be glad to do 
anything in my power in getting them interested if deemed 
practicable. 

First: I think they can stand the climate better or as 
well as any other people from the United States. 

Second: I have thought that a reasonably satisfactory 
number of them might be useful as common, or skilled, 
laborers. 

Third: That in the Health Department our well- 
trained nurses and physicians might be found help- 
ful. 

Fourth: If the United States should assume any re- 
sponsibility as to education, that many efficient colored 
teachers from our industrial schools, and colleges, might 
prove of great benefit. And, then, besides the presence 
of these educated persons would, in my opinion, both by 
character and example, aid in influencing the morality 
of the darker-skinned people to be employed at the Isth- 
mus. I believe that these educated colored people could 
get closer to the masses than white men. 
Yours truly, 

Booker T. Washington. 

To President Theodore Roosevelt, Washington, D. C. 

Nothing came of this suggestion except an acknowledg- 
ment and an assurance that the matter would be con- 
sidered. About two years ago, however, when Doctor 
Washington and Surgeon-General Gorgas met on a train 
the Surgeon-General said to Mr. Washington: "The 

85 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

biggest man at the canal was the Negro," and he added 
that when they came to the dedication of the canal at 
its formal opening some Negro should have a place on 
the program. 

In recent years a certain section of the Republicans in 
the far Southern States have tried to free themselves of 
the reputation of being "nigger lovers" by vying with 
their Democratic rivals in seeking to deprive Negroes of 
civic and political rights. Republicans of this particular 
stripe are known colloquially as the "Lily Whites." In 
this connection the following correspondence is of interest. 



[Copy] 
[Persona!] 

White House, 
Washington, March 21, 1904. 

Dear Mr. Washington : By direction of the President 
I send you herewith for your private information a copy 
of letter from the President to Mr. , dated Febru- 
ary 24, 1904. Please return it to me when you have 
read it. 

Yours very truly, 

Wm. Loeb, Jr., 
Secretary to the President. 
Principal Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee Normal and 

Industrial Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama. 
86 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 
This was the letter enclosed : 

[Copy] 

[Personal] 

White House, 
Washington, February 24, 1904. 

My Dear Mr. : I take it for granted that there is 

no intention of making the Louisiana delegation all white. 
I think it would be a mistake for my friends to take any 
such attitude in any state where there is a considerable 
Negro population. I think it is a great mistake from the 
standpoint of the whites; and in an organization composed 
of men whom I have especially favored it would put me 
in a false hght. As you know, I feel as strongly as any 
one can that there must be nothing like "Negro domi- 
nation." On the other hand, I feel equally strongly that 
the Republicans must consistently favor those compara- 
tively few colored people who by character and intelli- 
gence show themselves entitled to such favor. To put a 
premium upon the possession of such qualities among the 
blacks is not only to benefit them, but to benefit the 
whites among whom they live. I very earnestly hope that 
the Louisiana Republicans whom I have so consistently 
favored will not by any action of theirs tend to put me in 
a false position in such a matter as this. With your entire 
approval, I have appointed one or two colored men entitled 
by character and standing to go to the National Con- 
vention. 

Sincerely yours, 

Theodore Roosevelt. 

In the year 1898 the success of the suffrage amendments 
in South Carolina and Mississippi in excluding from the 

87 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

franchise more than nine-tenths of their Negro inhabitants 
inspired an agitation in Louisiana to cut off the Negro 
vote by similar means, and this agitation came to a head 
in the Constitutional Convention of that year. Mr. 
Washington, assisted by T. Thomas Fortune, the well- 
known Negro editor, and Mr. Scott, his secretary, pre- 
pared an open letter addressed to this convention which 
was taken to the convention by Mr. Scott and placed in 
the hands of the sufFrage committee as well as the editors 
of the New Orleans Times-Democrat and the Picayune, the 
leading daily papers of the State. Extracts from the letter 
were sent out by the local representative of the Associated 
Press and widely published throughout the country. 
These New Orleans editors expressed to Mr. Scott their 
approval of the letter and their substantial agreement with 
its main features, and promised to publish it in full, which 
they not only did, but accompanied it by editorial re- 
views. This letter stated in part: 

"The Negro agrees with you that it is necessary to the 
salvation of the South that restriction be put upon the 
ballot. . . . With the sincerest sympathy with you 
in your efforts to find a way out of the difficulty, I want 
to suggest that no State in the South can make a law that 
will provide an opportunity or temptation for an ignorant 
white man to vote and withhold the same opportunity from 
an ignorant colored man, without injuring both men. 
. . . Any law controlling the ballot, that is not abso- 
lutely just and fair to both races, will work more perma- 
nent injury to the whites than to the blacks. 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

"The Negro does not object to an educational or prop- 
erty test, but let the law be so clear that no one clothed 
with state authority will be tempted to perjure and de- 
grade himself by putting one interpretation upon it for the 
white man and another for the black man. Study the 
history of the South, and you will find that where there 
has been the most dishonesty in the matter of voting, there 
you will find to-day the lowest moral condition of both 
races. First, there was the temptation to act wrongly 
with the Negro's ballot. From this it was an easy step 
to dishonesty with the white man's ballot, to the carrying 
of concealed weapons, to the murder of a Negro, and then 
to the murder of a white man and then to lynching. I 
entreat you not to pass such a law as will prove an eternal 
millstone about the neck of your children." 

Later in the same appeal he said: "I beg of you, further, 
that in the degree that you close the ballot-box against the 
ignorant, that you open the schoolhouse. . . . Let 
the very best educational opportunities be provided for 
both races : and add to this the enactment of an election 
law that shall be incapable of unjust discrimination, at the 
same time providing that in proportion as the ignorant 
secure education, property, and character, they will be 
given the right of citizenship. Any other course will take 
from one half your citizens interest in the State, and hope 
and ambition to become intelligent producers and tax- 
payers — to become useful and virtuous citizens. Any 
other course will tie the white citizens of Louisiana to a 
body of death." 

89 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

The New Orleans Times-Democrat, in its editorial ac- 
companying the publication of this letter, said: "We have 
seen the corrupting influence in our politics and our elec- 
tions of making fraud an element of our suffrage system. 
We are certainly not going to get away from fraud by 
encouraging it, or making it a part of the suffrage system 
we place in our new constitution." The same editorial 
further states that impartiality in the use of the ballot 
can be given Negro and white man not only "with the 
utmost safety," but "it would have a beneficial effect 
upon the politics of the State." In fact, the press of both 
North and South, both of the whites and the blacks, pub- 
lished this letter with practically unanimous editorial 
endorsement, but in spite of all this the leaders of the con- 
vention remained obdurate, the immediate object was 
lost, and Louisiana followed the example of Mississippi 
and South Carolina. No one realized, however, better 
than Booker Washington that the effort was by no means 
in vain. Owing to the general awakening of intelligent 
public opinion the convention leaders were forced into 
the position of driving through the discriminatory amend- 
ment not only in the face of the condemnation of the better 
element throughout the country but even with the dis- 
approval of the better and leading citizens of their own 
State. 

Shortly afterward members of the Georgia Legislature, 
seeking political preferment for themselves through the 
familiar means of anti-Negro agitation, introduced a bill 
which aimed to discriminate against the Negroes of 
90 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

Georgia by legislative enactment just as the Negroes of 
Louisiana had been discriminated against by a constitu- 
tional amendment. This time Mr. Washington went 
personally to Atlanta and appealed directly to a number 
of the members of the Legislature and to the editors of 
the leading papers in opposition to this bill. In an inter- 
view published in the Atlanta Constitution at the time he 
said: 

"I cannot think that there is any large number of white 
people in the South who are so ignorant or so poor that 
they cannot get education and property enough to enable 
them to stand the test by the side of the Negro in these 
respects. I do not believe that these white people want 
it continually advertised to the world that some special 
law must be passed by which they will seem to be given 
an unfair advantage over the Negro by reason of their 
ignorance or their poverty. It is unfair to blame the 
Negro for not preparing himself for citizenship by acquir- 
ing intelligence, and then when he does get education and 
property, to pass a law that can be so operated as to pre- 
vent him from being a citizen, even though he may be a 
large taxpayer. The Southern white people have reached 
the point where they can afford to be just and generous; 
where there will be nothing to hide and nothing to explain. 
It is an easy matter, requiring little thought, generosity or 
statesmanship to push a weak man down when he is 
struggling to get up. Any one can do that. Greatness, 
generosity, statesmanship are shown in stimulating, en- 
couraging every individual in the body politic to make of 

91 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

himself the most useful, intelligent, and patriotic citizen 
possible. Take from the Negro all incentive to make him- 
self and his children useful property-holding citizens, and 
can any one blame him for becoming a beast capable of 
committing any crime ? " 

This time the immediate object was attained. The 
Atlanta Constitution and other leading Georgia papers 
indorsed Booker Washington's appeal and the Legislature 
voted down its anti-Negro members. Be it said to the 
credit of the Georgia Legislature that it has resisted several 
similar attempts to discriminate against the Negro citi- 
zens of the State, and it was not till 1908, ten years after 
the Louisiana law was passed, that Georgia finally passed 
a law disfranchising Negro voters. 

Booker Washington has been accused of not protesting 
against the lynching of Negroes. In the article published 
in the Century Magazine in 1912, from which we have 
previously quoted, he said on this subject: "When he was 
Governor of Alabama, I heard Governor Jelks say in a 
public speech that he knew of five cases during his admin- 
istration of innocent colored people having been lynched. 
If that many innocent people were known to the governor 
to have been lynched, it is safe to say that there were 
other innocent persons lynched whom the governor did 
not know about. What is true of Alabama in this respect 
is true of other states. In short, it is safe to say that a 
large proportion of the colored persons lynched are inno- 
cent. . . . Not a few cases have occurred where 
white people have blackened their faces and committed 
92 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

a crime, knowing that some Negro would be suspected 
and mobbed for it. In other cases it is known that where 
Negroes have committed crimes, innocent men have been 
lynched and the guilty ones have escaped and gone on 
committing more crimes. 

"Within the last twelve months there have been seventy- 
one cases of lynching, nearly all of colored people. Only 
seventeen were charged with the crime of rape. Perhaps 
they are wrong to do so, but colored people do not feel 
that innocence offers them security against lynching. 
They do feel, however, that the lynching habit tends to 
give greater security to the criminal, white or black." 

Mr. Washington often pointed out how the lynching 
of blacks leads inevitably to the lynching of whites and 
how the lynching of guilty persons of either race inevitably 
leads to the lynching of innocent persons of both races. 

Let it not be supposed that Booker Washington con- 
fined his condemnation of lynching to the comparatively 
safe cover of the pages of an eminently respectable North- 
em magazine. Some years ago when he was on a speaking 
trip in the State of Florida two depraved Negroes in Jack- 
sonville committed an atrocious murder. The crime 
aroused such intense race feeling that Mr. Washington's 
friends foresaw the likelihood of a lynching and, fearing 
for his safety, urged him to cancel his engagements in 
Jacksonville, where he was due to speak before white as 
well as black audiences within a few days. This he re- 
fused to do and insisted that because there was special 
racial friction it was especially necessary that he should 

93 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

keep his engagements in the city. While he was driving 
to the hall where he was to address a white audience the 
automobile of one of his Negro escorts was stopped by a 
crowd of excited white men who angrily demanded that 
Booker Washington be handed over to them. When 
they found he was not in the car they allowed it to pass 
on without molesting the Negro occupant, who enjoyed 
to an unusual degree the confidence and respect of both 
races in the city. What they would have done had they 
found Booker Washington one may only conjecture. At 
about the same time the Negro murderers were captured. 
The howls of the infuriated mob on its way to the jail to 
lynch the accused murderers could be heard in the distance 
from the hall where Mr. Washington spoke. Without 
referring in any way to the event which was taking place 
at the time Mr. Washington, to the alarm of his friends, 
launched into a fervid denunciation of lynching and ended 
with an earnest and eloquent appeal for better feeling 
between the races. Instead of his words breaking up the 
meeting in a storm of anger and rioting, this audience 
composed of Southern whites and colored people vigor- 
ously applauded his sentiments. Undoubtedly they were 
applauding not so much the views expressed as the cour- 
age shown in expressing them at that place and under 
those circumstances. 

A somewhat similar experience occurred on a recent 
speaking tour which he and a party were making through 
the State of Louisiana. He was accompanied by a com- 
pany of Negro leaders, including Major Moton of Hamp- 
94 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

ton, who has since become his successor as Principal of 
Tuskegee Institute. They were in a portion of the State 
notorious for its lynchings of Negroes. No one who has 
ever seen Major Moton, or knows anything about him, 
would think of accusing him of timidity or cowardice. 
But when they went before a white audience in this par- 
ticular district he urged Mr. Washington as a matter of 
common prudence to "soft pedal" what he had to say 
about lynching. Just as in Jacksonville Mr. Washington 
did just the opposite, and made his denunciation particu- 
larly emphatic, and just as in Jacksonville there was the 
same applause and apparent approval of his views. 

Booker Washington also protested that in the matter of 
public education his people are not given a square deal in 
parts of the South, particularly in the country districts. 
He continually emphasized the relation between education 
and crime. Other things being equal the more and the 
better the education provided the less the number and 
seriousness of the crimes committed. Also he pointed out 
that the neglect of Negro school facilities injures the white 
citizens almost if not quite as much as the Negroes them- 
selves. And conversely that good school facilities for the 
colored children benefit the whites almost as much as the 
Negroes. He also insisted that quite aside from all moral 
and ethical considerations Negro education pays in dollars 
and cents. As illustrating the relation between Negro 
education and crime or rather lack of Negro education and 
crime he related this incident in an article entitled, "Black 
and White in the South" pubHshed in the Outlook of March 

95 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

14, 1914: "A few weeks ago three of the most prominent 
white men in Mississippi were shot and killed by two 
colored boys. Investigation brought to light that the two 
boys were rough and crude, that they had never been to 
school, hence that they were densely ignorant. While no 
one had taught these boys the use of books, some one had 
taught them, as mere children, the use of cocaine and 
whiskey. In a mad fit, when their minds and bodies were 
filled with cheap whiskey and cocaine, these two ignorant 
boys created a 'reign of murder,' in the course of which 
three white men, four colored men, and one colored woman 
met death. As soon as the shooting was over a crazed 
mob shot the two boys full of bullet-holes and then burned 
their bodies in the public streets. 

"Now this is the kind of thing, more or less varied in 
form, that takes place too often in our country. Why.? 
The answer is simple: it is dense ignorance on the part of 
the Negro and indifference arising out of a lack of knowl- 
edge of conditions on the part of the white people." 

He then pointed out that the last enumeration in 
Mississippi, where this crime was committed, indicated 
that 64 per cent, of the colored children had had no school- 
ing during the past year. That in Charleston County, 
South Carolina, another backward State in Negro educa- 
tion, there was expended on the public education of each 
white child $20.2; for the colored child $3.12; in Abbe- 
ville County ^11.17 for the white, 69 cents for the colored 
child. This 69 cents per capita expense was incurred by 
maintaining a one-room school for two and one-half 
96 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

months, with a teacher paid at the rate of $15 a month. 
In another county the Negro school was in session but one 
month out of the twelve. Throughout the State, outside 
the cities and large towns, the school term for the colored 
children is from two to four months. Thus 200,000 
colored children in South Carolina are given only three or 
four months of schooling a year. " Under these conditions 
it would require twenty-eight years for a child to complete 
the eight grades of the public school. . . . But South 
Carolina is by no means the only State that has these 
breeding spots for ignorance, crime, and filth which the 
nation will sooner or later have to reckon with." 

In the article in the Century Magazine from which 
quotations have already been made Mr. Washington 
cites this statement made by W. N. Sheats, former 
Superintendent of Education for the State of Florida, in 
explanation of an analysis of the sources of the school fund 
of the State: "A glance at the foregoing statistics in- 
dicates that the section of the State designated as 'Middle 
Florida' is considerably behind all the rest in all stages of 
educational progress. The usual plea is that this is due 
to the intolerable burden of Negro education, and a gen- 
eral discouragement and inactivity is ascribed to this 
cause. The following figures are given to show that the 
education of the Negroes of Middle Florida does not cost 
the white people of that section one cent. Without dis- 
cussing the American principle that it is the duty of all 
property to educate every citizen as a means of protection 
to the State, and with no reference to what taxes that 

97 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

citizen may pay, it is the purpose of this paragraph to show 
that the backwardness of education of the white people is 
in no degree due to the presence of the Negro, but that the 
presence of the Negro has been actually contributing to the 
sustenance of the white schools." 

Mr. Sheats then shows that the cost of the Negro schools 
was $19,467, while the Negroes contributed to the school 
fund in direct taxes, together with their proper proportion 
of the indirect taxes, $23,984. He concludes: "If this is a 
fair calculation the schools for the Negroes are not only<,no 
burden on the white citizens, but $4,525 for Negro schools 
contributed from other sources was in some way diverted 
to the white schools." 

Mr. Charles L. Coon, Superintendent of Schools at Wil- 
son, N. C, is quoted as demonstrating that had there been 
expended upon the Negro schools the Negro's proportion- 
ate share of the receipts from indirect taxes, as well as the 
direct taxes paid by them, $18,077 more in a given year 
would have been expended on colored schools in Virginia, 
$26,539 more in North Carolina, and $141,682 more in 
Georgia. These figures would seem to show that in these 
States at least the Negro schools are not only no burden 
upon the white taxpayers but that the colored people do 
not get back in school facilities the equivalent of all they 
themselves contribute in taxes. 

In the matter of passenger transportation facilities 
Booker Washington protested that injustice is done his 
people by most of the railroads of the South, not in provid- 
ing separate accommodations for blacks and whites, but in 
98 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

furnishing the Negroes with inferior accommodations while 
charging them the same rates. This injustice causes, 
he beheves, more resentment and bitterness among his 
people than all the other injustices to which they are sub- 
jected combined. The Negro or "Jim Crow" compart- 
ment is usually half of the baggage car which is usually 
inadequate for the traffic, badly lighted, badly ventilated, 
and dirty. The newsdealer of the train uses this coach and 
increases the congestion by spreading his wares over sev- 
eral seats. White men frequently enter this compartment 
to buy papers and almost always smoke in it, thus requiring 
the colored' women to ride in what is virtually a smoker. 
Aside from these matters the Negroes rarely have through 
cars and no sleeping, parlor, or buffet cars, and frequently 
no means of securing food on long journeys since many if 
not most of the station restaurants refuse to serve them. 
In the Century article Mr. Washington thus quoted the 
experience of a sensible and conservative Negro friend of 
his from Austin, Texas — a man of education and good 
reputation among both races in his native city: "At one 
time," he said, in describing some of his travelling ex- 
periences, "I got off at a station almost starved. I begged 
the keeper of the restaurant to sell me a lunch in a paper and 
hand it out of the window. He refused, and I had to 
travel a hundred miles farther before I could get a sand- 
wich. At another time I went to a station to purchase my 
ticket. I was there thirty minutes before the ticket office 
was opened. When it did finally open I at once appeared 
at the window. While the ticket agent served the white 

99 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

people at one window, I remained waiting at the other 
until the train pulled out. I was compelled to jump 
aboard the train without my ticket and wire back to get 
my trunk expressed. Considering the temper of the 
people, the separate coach law may be the wisest plan for 
the South, but the statement that the two races have equal 
accommodations is all bosh. I pay the same money, but I 
cannot have a chair or a lavatory, and rarely a through 
car. I must crawl out at all times of night, and in all 
kinds of weather, in order to catch another dirty 'Jim 
Crow' coach to make my connections. I do not ask to 
ride with white people. I do ask for equal accommoda- 
tions for the same money." 

Booker Washington was of course obliged to travel in the 
South almost constantly and to a great extent at night. He 
nearly always travelled on a Pullman car, and so when not 
an interstate passenger usually "violated" the law of 
whatever State he happened to be passing through. The 
conductors, brakemen, and other trainmen, as a rule, 
treated him with great respect and consideration and often- 
times offered him a compartment in place of the berth 
which he had purchased. 

Pullman cars in the South are not as a rule open to mem- 
bers of the Negro race. It is only under more or less 
unusual conditions that a black man is able to secure Pull- 
man accommodations. Dr. Washington, however, was 
generally treated with marked consideration whenever he 
applied for Pullman car reservations. He was sometimes 
criticised, not only by members of his own race, but by the 

lOO 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

unthinking of the white race who accused him of thus seek- 
ing "social equahty" with the white passengers. 

The work he was compelled to do, however, in con- 
stantly travelling from place to place, and dictating letters 
while travelling, made it necessary that he conserve his 
strength as much as possible. He never believed that he 
was defying Southern traditions in seeking the comfort 
essential to his work. 

Upon one occasion Dr. Washington went to Houston, 
Texas, and was invited by the Secretary of the Cotton 
Exchange, in the name of the Exchange, to speak to the 
members of the leading business organizations of Houston, 
upon the floor of the Cotton Exchange Bank. He was in- 
troduced by the secretary, who desired to give Dr. Wash- 
ington the opportunity to put before representative 
Southern white men the thoughts and ideas of a representa- 
tive colored man as to how the two races might live to- 
gether in the South on terms of mutual helpfulness. Such 
was the impression he made upon the whites that when 
Dr. Washington's secretary' applied for Pullman accom- 
modations for him, returning East, they were not only un- 
grudgingly but even eagerly granted. In those days it 
was unheard of for a colored man to travel as a passenger in 
a Pullman car in Texas. 

The injustices mentioned and all others connected with 
railway passenger service for Negroes Booker Washington 
sought in characteristic fashion to mitigate by instituting, 
through the agency of the National Negro Business League, 
what are known as Railroad Days. On these days each 

lOI 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

year colored patrons of railroads lay before the responsible 
officials the respects in which they believe they are un- 
fairly treated and request certain definite changes. Al- 
though started only a few years ago these Railroad Days 
have already accomplished a number of the improvements 
desired in various localities. 

As an aid to the committees appointed in the various 
communities Mr. Washington sent out a letter addressed 
to these committees which was published in the Negro 
papers. This letter advised that all protests on Railroad 
Days give: first, "a statement of present conditions," 
second, "a statement of conditions desired." There fol- 
lowed a sample detailed statement of the present conditions 
about which there is usually cause for complaint accom- 
panied by a similar statement of the conditions desired. 

It was then suggested that these specific recommenda- 
tions be followed by these general requests: 

"i. The same class and quality of accommodations for 
colored passengers as are provided for the most favored 
class of travellers. 

"2. Such regulations as will protect colored passengers 
from the rudeness and insults of employees of the railroad. 

"3. Some definite authority to whom these matters 
may be referred, where friction arises, and who will, in 
good faith, investigate and adjust them." 

The letter concluded with this advice: 

"All those who are going to act on the suggestions to 
make a united effort to bring about better railroad and 
other travelling facilities should not omit to remind our 
102 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

people that they have a duty to perform as well as the 
railroads. 

"First, our people should try to keep themselves clean 
and presentable when travelling, and they should do their 
duty in trying to keep waiting-rooms and railroad coaches 
clean. 

"Second, it should be borne in mind that little or noth- 
ing will be accomplished by merely talking about white 
people who are in charge of railroads, etc. The only way 
to get any results is to go to the people and talk to them 
and not about them." 

Compare this definite, reasonable, and effective form of 
protest with the bitter, vague, and futile outcry against 
the "Jim Crow" car which is frequently heard. 

Booker Washington sent a marked copy of the Century 
Magazine containing the article, "Is the Negro Having a 
Fair Chance.''" to the head of every railroad in the South 
calling attention to the portion relating to unfair treat- 
ment in passenger service for his people. In response he 
received letters which in almost every case were friendly 
and in many cases showed an active desire to cooperate 
in the improvement of the conditions complained of. 
Mr. Washington pubUshed extracts from these letters in 
the Negro press prior to his Railroad Day proposal in order 
to show that the railroad oflnicials were for the most part 
at least willing to give a respectful hearing to the com- 
plaints of their Negro patrons if properly approached. 
President Stevens of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway 
Company wrote that he had had one hundred copies of the 

103 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

article distributed among the oflBcials and employees of 
his road. Mr. J. M. Parker, Receiver and General Mana- 
ger of the Arkansas, Louisiana & Gulf Railway Company, 
wrote: "I have your favor with enclosure ... I 
shall take pleasure in reading this article, and from glanc- 
ing through it I am inclined to think that the statement 
that the Negro is not getting a square deal in the way of 
transportation facilities is well founded." Mr. William 
J. Black, Passenger of the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe 
Railway System, wrote in part: "You will, no doubt, be 
pleased to learn that the Santa Fe has already provided 
equipment for colored travel in conformity with the plan 
outlined in your article." From all or most of the South- 
ern railways came letters of the general tenor of those 
quoted, and thus was the way prepared for the successful 
inauguration of the Railroad Days. 

Constantly as he labored for the rights of his people he 
never sought to obtain for them any special privileges. 
Unlike most leaders of groups, classes, or races of people 
he never sought any exclusive or special advantages for his 
followers. He did not want the Negro to receive any 
favors by reason of his race any more than he wanted him 
to be discriminated against on that account. He wanted 
all human beings, Negroes among the rest, to receive their 
deserts as individuals regardless of their race, color, religion, 
sex, or any other consideration which has nothing to do 
with the individual's merits. One of his favorite figures 
was that "one cannot hold another in a ditch without 
himself staying in the ditch." There is not a single right 
104 



THE RIGHTS OF THE NEGRO 

for which he contended for his people which if won would 
not directly or indirectly benefit all other people. Were 
they in all the States admitted to the franchise on equal 
terms with white citizens what Mr. Washington termed 
the "encouragement of vice and ignorance among white 
citizens" would cease. 

Were the lynching of Negroes stopped the lynching of 
white men would also cease. Both the innocent black 
man and the innocent white man would feel a greater sense 
of security while the guilty black man as well as the guilty 
white man would be less secure. Were the Negroes given 
their full share of public education the whites would gain 
not only more reliable and intelligent Negro labor, but 
would be largely freed so far as Negroes are concerned 
from the menace of the crimes of violence which are com- 
mitted almost exclusively by ignorant persons. Finally, 
were Negro travellers given equal accommodations and 
treatment for equal rates on all the Southern railways the 
volume of Negro travel would more rapidly increase, thus 
increasing the prosperity of the railways and their share- 
holders which would in turn promote the prosperity of the 
entire South. 

True to his policy of always placing the emphasis upon 
those things which are encouraging instead of upon those 
things which are discouraging, Mr. Washington concluded 
the already much-quoted article, "Is the Negro Having a 
Fair Chance ? with these observations : " Notwithstanding 
all the defects in our system of dealing with him, the Negro 
in this country owns more property, fives in better houses, 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

is in a larger measure encouraged in business, wears better 
clothes, eats better food, has more schoolhouses and 
churches, and more teachers and ministers, than any 
similar group of Negroes anywhere in the world." 



io6 



CHAPTER FIVE 

MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

ALTHOUGH intensely human and consumingly inter- 
ested in humanity — both in the mass and as individ- 
uals, whether of his own race or any other — Booker 
Washington thought and acted to an uncommon degree 
on the impersonal plane. This characteristic was per- 
haps most strikingly illustrated in his attitude toward 
race prejudice. When, many years ago, he had charge 
of the Indian students at Hampton, and had occasion to 
travel with them, he found they were free to occupy in the 
hotels any rooms they could pay for, whereas he must 
either go without or take a room in the servants' quarters. 
He regarded these experiences as interesting illustrations 
of the illogical nature of race prejudice. The occupants of 
these hotels did not resent mingling with members of a 
backward race whose skin happened to be red, but they 
did object to mingling on the same terms with members of 
another backward race whose skin happened to be black. 
It apparently never entered his head to regard this dis- 
crimination with bitterness or as a personal rebuff. One 
could not, however, make a greater mistake than to assume 
from this impersonal attitude that he condoned race prej- 
udice, or in any sense stood as an apologist for it. To 

107 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

dispel any such idea one has only to recall his speech at the 
Peace Jubilee in Chicago after the Spanish War, from 
which we have already quoted, and in which he character- 
ized racial prejudice as "a cancer gnawing at the heart of 
the Republic, that shall one day prove as dangerous as an 
attack from an army without or within." 

Very early in his career Washington worked out for 
himself a perfectly definite Hne of conduct in the matter of 
social mingling with white people. In the South he scru- 
pulously observed the local customs and avoided offending 
the prejudices of the Southerners in so far as was possible 
without unduly handicapping his work. For instance, in 
his constant travelling throughout the South he not only 
violated their customs, but oftentimes their laws, in using 
sleeping cars, but this he was obliged to do because he 
could spare neither the time to travel by day nor the 
strength and energy to sit up all night. This particular 
Southern prejudice and the laws predicated upon it he was 
hence forced to violate, but he did so as a physical necessity 
to the accomplishment of his work and not in any sense as a 
defiance of custom or law. While in the South he ob- 
served Southern customs and bowed to Southern prejudices, 
but he declined to be bound by such customs, laws, and 
prejudices when in other parts of this country or the 
world. Except in the South he allowed himself whatever 
degree of social intercourse with the whites seemed best 
calculated to accomplish his immediate object and his ulti- 
mate aims. He never accepted purely social invitations 
from white persons. He always claimed that he could best 
108 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

satisfy his social desires among his own people. He be- 
lieved that the question of so-called "social equahty" be- 
tween the races was too academic and meaningless to be 
worthy of serious discussion. 

Probably he never made a more well-considered or il- 
luminating statement of his personal attitude toward 
social intercourse with the dominant race than in a letter 
to the late Edgar Gardiner Murphy, a Southerner "of 
light and leading," author of "The Present South," "The 
Basis of Ascendancy," and other notable books on the 
relations between the races. Mr. Murphy, as a South- 
erner, became alarmed at the attacks upon Booker Wash- 
ington by certain Southern newspapers and public men 
because of his appearance at so-called social functions 
in the North. Mr. Murphy, rightly regarding the reten- 
tion of the favorable opinion of representative Southern 
whites as essential to the success of Washington's work, 
very naturally feared any course of action which seemed 
to threaten the continuance of that favorable opinion. 
In response to a letter in which Mr. Murphy expressed 
these fears and asked for an opportunity to discuss the 
situation with him Mr. Washington replied as follows : 

[Personal] 

My Dear Sir: I have received your kind letter, for 
which I thank you very much. I was very much disap- 
pointed that I did not have an opportunity of meeting you, 
as I had planned the other day, so as not to be so hurried 
in talking with you as I usually am. I shall be very glad, 
however, the very first time I can find another spare hour 

109 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

when in New York (Mr. Murphy was then living in New 
York City) to have you talk with me fully and frankly 
about the matters that are in your mind. 

However we may differ in our view regarding certain 
matters, there is no man in the country whose frankness, 
earnestness, and sincere disinterestedness I respect more 
than yours, and whatever you say always has great weight 
with me. 

Your letter emphasizes the tremendous difficulty of 
the work at the South. In most cases, and in most coun- 
tries where a large section of the people are down, and 
are to be helped up, those attempting to do the work 
have before them a straight, simple problem of elevating 
the unfortunate people without the entanglement of racial 
prejudice to be grappled with. I think I do not exag- 
gerate when I say that perhaps a third or half of the 
thought and energy of those engaged in the elevation of 
the colored people is given in the direction of trying to do 
the thing or not doing the thing which would enhance 
racial prejudice. This feature of the situation I believe 
very few people at the North or at the South appreciate. 
What is true of the Negro educator is true in a smaller 
degree of the white educator at the South. I am con- 
stantly trying, as best I can, to study the situation as 
it is right here on the ground, and I may be mistaken, 
but aside from the wild and demagogical talk on the part 
of a few I am unable to discover much or any change in 
the attitude of the best white people toward the best 
colored people. So far as my own individual experience 
and observation are concerned, I am treated about the 
same as I haVe always been. I was in Athens, Georgia, 
a few days ago, to deliver an address before the colored 
people at the State Fair, and the meeting was attended 
by the best class of whites and the best class of 
no 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

colored people, who seemed to be pleased over what I 
said. 

Mr. Blank, a Southern Congressman, just now is making a 
good deal of noise, but you will recall that Mr. Blank spoke 
just as bitterly against me before Mr. Roosevelt became 
President as he has since. I do not want to permit myself 
to be misled, but I repeat that I cannot see or feel that any 
great alienation has taken place between the two classes 
of people that you refer to. 

For the sake of argument I want to grant for the moment 
a thing which I have never done before, even in a private 
letter, and which is very distasteful to me, and that is, 
that I am the leader of the colored people. Do you think 
it will ever be possible for one man to be set up as the 
leader of ten millions of people, meaning a population 
nearly twice as large as that of the Dominion of Canada 
and nearly equal to that of the Republic of Mexico, with- 
out the actions of that individual being carefully watched 
and commented upon, and what he does being exaggerated 
either in one direction or the other? Again, if I am the 
leader and therefore the mouthpiece for ten millions of 
colored people, is it possible for such a leader to avoid 
coming into contact with the representatives of the ruling 
classes of white people upon many occasions; and is it 
not to be expected that when questions that are racial 
and national and international in their character are to 
be discussed, that such a representative of the Negro 
race would be sought out both by individuals and by 
conventions? If, as you kindly suggest, I am the leader, 
I hardly see how such notoriety and prominence as will 
naturally come can be wholly or in any large degree 
avoided. 

Judging by some of the criticisms that have appeared 
recently, mainly from the class of people to whom I have 

III 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

referred, it seems to me that some of the white people at 
the South are making an attempt to control my actions 
when I am in the North and in Europe. Heretofore, 
no man has been more careful to regard the feelings of 
the Southern people in actions and words than I have 
been, and this policy I shall continue to pursue, but I 
have never attempted to hide or to minimize the fact 
that when I am out of the South I do not conform to 
the same customs and rules that I do in the South. I 
say I have not attempted to hide it because everything 
that I have done in this respect was published four years 
ago in my book, "Up from Slavery," which has been 
read widely throughout the South, and I did not hear a 
word of adverse criticism passed upon what I had done. 
For fifteen years I have been doing at the North just 
what I have been doing during the past year. I have 
never attended a purely social function given by white 
people anywhere in the country. Nearly every week I 
receive invitations to weddings of rich people, but these 
I always refuse. Mrs. Washington almost never accom- 
panies me on any occasion where there can be the least 
sign of purely social intercourse. Whenever I meet 
white people in the North at their offices, in their parlors, 
or at their dinner tables, or at banquets, it is with me 
purely a matter of business, either in the interest of our 
institution or in the interest of my race; no other thought 
ever enters my mind. For me to say now, after fifteen 
years of creating interest in my race and in this institu- 
tion in that manner, that I must stop, would simply mean 
that I must cease to get money in a large measure for 
this institution. In meeting the people in this way I 
am simply doing what the head of practically every school, 
black and white, in the South is constantly doing. For 
purely social pleasure I have always found all my ambitions 

112 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

satisfied among my own people, and you will find that in 
proportion as the colored race becomes educated and 
prosperous, in the same proportion is this true of all 
colored people. 

I said a minute ago that I had tried to be careful in 
regard to the feelings of the Southern people. It has 
been urged upon me time and time again to employ a 
number of white teachers at this institution. I have 
not done so and do not intend to do so, largely for the 
reason that they would be constantly mingling with 
each other at the table. For thirty years and more, in 
every one of our Southern States, white and colored people 
have sat down to the table three times a day nearly through- 
out the year, and I have heard very little criticism passed 
upon them. This kind of thing, however, at Tuskegee 
I have always tried to avoid so far as our regular teaching 
force is concerned. But I repeat, if I begin to yield in the 
performance of my duty when out of the South in one 
respect, I do not know where the end will be. It is very 
difficult for you, or any other person who is not in my 
place, to understand the difficulty and embarrassment 
that I am confronted with. You have no idea how many 
invitations of various kinds I am constantly refusing or 
trying to get away from because I want to avoid em- 
barrassing situations. For example, over a year ago Mr. 

S invited me to go to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 

near Lenox, to deliver an address on General Armstrong's 
life and work. When I reached Stockbridge an hour or 
so before the time of delivering the address, I found 

that Mr. S , who had invited me, had also invited 

five or six other gentlemen to meet me at luncheon. The 
luncheon I knew nothing about until I reached the town. 
Under such circumstances I am at a loss to know how 
I could have avoided accepting the invitation. A few 

"3 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

days afterward I filled a long-standing invitation to lecture 
at Amherst College. I reached the town a few hours 
before dinner and found that a number of people, includ- 
ing several college presidents, had been invited to meet 
me at dinner. Taking still another case: over a year ago 
I promised a colored club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 
that I would be their guest at a banquet in October. The 
banquet was held on the third of the month, and when I 
reached Cambridge I found that in addition to the mem- 
bers of the colored club, the Mayor of the city and a 
number of Harvard professors, including President Eliot, 
had been invited; and I could go on and state case after 
case. Of course, if I wanted to make a martyr of myself 
and draw especial attention to me and to the institution, 
I could easily do so by simply writing whenever I receive 
an invitation to a dinner or banquet that I could not 
accept on account of the color of my skin. 

Six years ago at the Peace Jubilee in Chicago, where I 
spoke at a meeting at which President McKinley was 
present, I took both luncheon and dinner in the same 
dining-room with President McKinley and was the guest 
of the same club that he was a guest of. There were 
Southern men present, and the fact that I was present 
and spoke was widely heralded throughout the South, and 
so far as I know not a word of adverse comment was made. 
For nearly fifteen years the addresses which I have been 
constantly making at dinners and banquets in the North 
have been published throughout the South, and no ad- 
verse comment has been made regarding my presence on 
these occasions. 

Practically all of the invitations to functions that are 
of even a semi-social character are urged upon me by 
Northern people, and very often after I have refused to 
accept invitations pressure is brought to bear on special 
114 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

friends of mine in order to get me to accept. Notwith- 
standing all this, where I accept one invitation I refuse 
ten; in fact, you have no idea how many invitations to 
dinner I refuse while I am in the North. I not only do 
so for the reason that I do not care to excite undue criti- 
cism, but for the further reason that if I were to accept 
any large proportion of such invitations I would have little 
time left for my legitimate work. In many cases the 
invitations come from people who do not give money 
but simply want to secure a notoriety or satisfy curios- 
ity. 

I have stated the case as I see it, and with a view of 
having you think over these matters by the time that 
we meet. 

[Signed] Booker T. Washington. 

There were two particularly notable occasions upon 
which Mr. Washington unwittingly stirred the prejudices 
of the South. The first was when in 1901 he dined with 
President Roosevelt and his family at the White House; 
the second, when four years later he dined with Mr. John 
Wanamaker and his daughter at a hotel in Saratoga, 
New York. 

The truth of his dining at the White House, of which 
so many imaginary versions have been given, was this: 
having received so many expressions of approval from all 
sections of the country on his appointment of ex-Governor 
Jones to a Federal judgeship in Alabama, which appoint- 
ment was made, as described in a previous chapter, on 
the recommendation of Booker Washington and Grover 
Cleveland, President Roosevelt asked him to come to the 

IIS 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

White House and discuss with him some further appoint- 
ments and other matters of mutual interest. 

On arriving in Washington he went to the home of his 
friend, Whitefield McKinlay, a colored man with whom 
he usually stopped when in the Capital. The next morn- 
ing he went to the White House by appointment for an 
interview with the President. ... Since they did not have 
time to finish their discussion, the President, in accordance 
with the course he had often followed with others under 
similar circumstances, invited Washington to come to din- 
ner so that they might finish their discussion in the even- 
ing without loss of time. 

In response to this oral invitation he went to the White 
House at the appointed time, dined with the President 
and his family and two other guests, and after dinner 
discussed with the President chiefly the character of in- 
dividual colored office holders or applicants for office and, 
as says Colonel Roosevelt, "the desirability in specific 
cases, notably in all offices having to do with the adminis- 
tration of justice, of getting high-minded and fearless 
white men into office — men whom we could be sure would 
affirmatively protect the law-abiding Negro's right to life, 
liberty, and property just exactly as they protected the 
rights of law-abiding white men." Also they discussed 
the public service of the South so far as the represent- 
atives of the Federal Administration were concerned — the 
subject upon which President Roosevelt had wished to con- 
sult him. The next day the bare fact that he had dined 
with the President was obscurely announced by the Wash- 
ii6 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

ington papers as a routine item of White House news. 
Some days later, however, an enterprising correspondent 
for a Southern paper lifted this unpretentious item from 
oblivion and sent it to his paper to be blazoned forth 
in a front-page headline. For days and weeks thereafter 
the Southern press fairly shrieked with the news of this 
quiet dinner. The very papers which had most loudly 
praised the President for his appointment of a Southern 
Democrat to a Federal judgeship now execrated him for 
inviting to dine with him the man upon whose recom- 
mendation he had made this appointment. 

Mr. Washington was also roundly abused for his "pre- 
sumption" in daring to dine at the White House. This 
was a little illogical in view of the well-known fact that an 
invitation to the White House is a summons rather than 
an invitation in the ordinary sense. Neither President 
Roosevelt nor Mr. Washington issued any statements by 
way of explanation or apology. While it was, of course, 
farthest from the wishes of either to offend the sensibilities 
of the South, neither one — the many statements to the 
contrary, notwithstanding — ever indicated subsequently 
any regret or admitted that the incident was a mistake. 

During the furore over this incident both the President 
and Mr. Washington received many threats against their 
lives. The President had the Secret Service to protect 
him, while Mr. Washington had no such reliance. His co- 
workers surrounded him with such precautions as they 
could, and his secretary accumulated during this period 
enough threatening letters to fill a desk drawer. It was 

117 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

not discovered until some years after that one of these 
threats had been followed by the visit to Tuskegee of a 
hired assassin. A strange Negro was hurt in jumping off 
the train before it reached the Tuskegee Institute station. 
There being no hospital for Negroes in the town of 
Tuskegee he was taken to the hospital of the Institute, 
where he was cared for and nursed for several weeks before 
he was able to leave. Mr. Washington was absent in 
the North during all of this time. Many months later 
this Negro confessed that he had come to Tuskegee in 
the pay of a group of white men in Louisiana for the pur- 
pose of assassinating Booker Washington. He said that 
he became so ashamed of himself while being cared for 
by the doctors and nurses employed by the very man he 
had come to murder that he left as soon as he was able to 
do so instead of waiting to carry out his purpose on the 
return of his victim, as he had originally planned to do. 

Booker Washington, with all his philosophy and ca- 
pacity for rising above the personal, was probably more 
deeply pained by this affair than any other in his whole 
career. His pain was, however, almost solely on Mr. 
Roosevelt's account. He felt keenly hurt and chagrined 
that Mr. Roosevelt, whom he so intensely admired, and 
who was doing so much, not only for his own race but for 
the whole South as he believed, should suffer all this abuse 
and even vilification on his account. President Roosevelt 
evidently realized something of how he felt, for in a letter 
to him written at this time he added this postscript: "By 
the way, don't worry about me; it will all come right in time, 
ii8 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

and if I have helped by ever so little 'the ascent of man' I 
am more than satisfied." 

Probably no single public event ever gave Booker 
Washington greater pleasure than Colonel Roosevelt's 
triumphant election to the Presidency in 1904. The day 
after the election he wrote the President the following 
letter: 

[Personal] 

Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, 

November 10, 1 904. 

My Dear Mr. President: I cannot find words in which 
to express my feeling regarding the tremendous outcome 
of Tuesday's election. I know that you feel the sacred 
and almost divine confidence imposed. In my opinion, 
no human being in America since Washington, perhaps, 
has been so honored and vindicated. The result shows 
that the great heart of the American people beats true and 
is in the direction of fair play for all, regardless of race or 
color. Nothing has ever occurred which has given me 
more faith in all races or shows more plainly that they 
will respond to high ideals when properly appealed to. 

I know that you will not misunderstand me when I say 
I share somewhat the feeling of triumph and added re- 
sponsibility that must animate your soul at the present 
time because of the personal abuse heaped upon you on 
account of myself. The great victory and vindication 
does not make me feel boastful or vainglorious, but, on 
the other hand, very humble, and gives me more faith in 
humanity and makes me more determined to work harder 
in the interest of all our people of both races regardless of 
race or color. I shall urge our people everywhere to mani- 
fest their gratitude by showing a spirit of meekness and 

119 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

added usefulness. The election shows to what a great 
height you have already Hfted the character of American 
citizenship. Before you leave the White House I am 
sure that the whole South will understand you and love 
you. 

God keep you and bless you. 

Yours most sincerely, 
[Signed] Booker T. Washington. 
To President Theodore Roosevelt, White House, Washington. 

President Roosevelt expressed great appreciation of 
this letter and said that Mr. Washington had taken the 
election in just the way he would have wished him to take 
it. 

About two years later Mr. Washington wrote President 
Roosevelt another letter which throws light upon the rela- 
tions between the two men as well as upon the illogicality 
of racial prejudice: 

Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, 
June 19, 1906. 

My Deah Mr. President: It will interest you to know 
that the Ccx family, over whom such a disturbance was 
made in connection with the Indianola, Miss., post-ofl&ce, 
have started a bank in that same town which direct and 
reliable information convinces me is in a prosperous condi- 
tion. The bank has the confidence of both races. It is a 
curious circumstance that while objection was made to this 
black family being at the head of the post-office no objec- 
tion is made to this black man being president of a bank 
in the same town. 

A letter just received from a reliable banker in Miss- 
issippi contains the following sentences: 

120 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

"Now, with reference to Mr. W.W. Cox, of Indianola, 
Miss., I beg to advise that no man of color is as highly 
regarded and respected by the white people of his town 
and county as he. It is true that he organized and is 
cashier of the Delta Penny Savings Bank, domiciled there. 
I visited Indianola during the spring of 1905 and was very 
much surprised to note the esteem in which he was held by 
the bankers and business men (white) of that place. He 
is a good, clean man and above the average in intelligence, 
and knows how to handle the typical Southern white man. 
In the last statement furnished by his bank to the State 
Auditor, his bank showed total resources of ^46,000. He 
owns and lives in one of the best resident houses in In- 
dianola, regardless of race, and located in a part of the 
town where other colored men seem to be not desired. 
The whites adjacent to him seem to be his friends. He 
has a large plantation near the town, worth $35,000 
or $40,000. He is a director in Mr. Pettiford's bank 
at Birmingham, Ala., and I think is vice-president of 
the same. He also owns stock in the bank of Mound 
Bayou." 

Yours very truly, 
[Signed] Booker T. Washington. 
To President Theodore Roosevelt, Washington, D. C. 



In August, 1905, Booker Washington spoke one Sunday 
morning before a large audience in Saratoga Springs, 
N. Y. After his address Mr. John Wanamaker and his 
daughter were among those who came forward to greet 
him. They also invited him to dine with them at the 
United States Hotel that afternoon. Mr. Wanamaker 
had been particularly interested in Booker Washington 

121 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

and his work for many years. Mr. Washington accepted 
this invitation without the least thought of reawakening 
the clamor caused by the Roosevelt dinner. The dinner 
itself passed off" quietly, pleasantly, and without particular 
event. It was not until he took up the papers at his little 
hotel in New York the next morning that he found that he 
had again stirred up a hornet's nest similar to that of four 
years before. The denunciation was if anything more 
violent; for, as many of his assailants said, he should have 
profited by the protests of four years before. In an edi- 
torial entitled, "Booker Washington's Saratoga Perform- 
ance" a Southern newspaper said: "Since the fateful day 
when Booker T. Washington sat down to the dinner table 
in the White House with President Roosevelt he has done 
many things to hurt the cause of which he is regarded as 
the foremost man. . . . Leaving out of the question 
the lack of delicacy and self-respect manifested by Wana- 
maker and his family, blame must rest upon Washington, 
because he knows how deep and impassable is the gulf 
between whites and blacks in the South when the social 
situation is involved. He deliberately flaunts all this in 
the face of the Southern people among whom he is living 
and among whom his work has to be carried on. He 
could have given no harder knock to his institution than 
he gave when he marched into that Saratoga dinner room 
with a white woman and her father." 

These sentiments were expressed editorially by another 
Southern paper: "Wanamaker is unworthy to shine the 
shoes of Booker Washington. He is not in Washington's 

122 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

class. If the truly smart set of Saratoga was shocked that 
Booker should have been caught in this man's company 
and as his guest we are not surprised. But still Booker 
Washington could not eat dinner with the most ordinary 
white man in this section. He wouldn't dare intimate 
that he sought such social recognition among whites here"; 
and in conclusion this editorial said: "The South only 
pities the daughter that she should have allowed herself 
to be used by a father whose sensibilities and ideas of the 
proprieties are so dulled by his asinine quahties that he 
could not see the harm in it." 

This vituperation of Mr. Wanamaker, and the scoring 
him for his part in the affair even more than Washington, 
recalls an incident which Mr. Washington himself relates 
in his book entitled, "My Larger Education." When he 
was making a trip through Florida, a few weeks after his 
dinner with President Roosevelt, at a little station near 
Gainesville, "A white man got aboard the train," he 
says, "whose dress and manner indicated that he was 
from the class of small farmers in that part of the coun- 
try. He shook hands with me very cordially, and said: 
'I am mighty glad to see you. I have heard about 
you and I have been wanting to meet you for a long 
while.' 

"I was naturally pleased at this cordial reception, but 
I was surprised when, after looking me over, he remarked: 
'Say, you are a great man. You are the greatest man in 
this country.' 

"I protested mildly, but he insisted, shaking his head 

123 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

and repeating, 'Yes, sir, the greatest man in this country.' 
Finally I asked him what he had against President Roose- 
velt, telling him at the same time that, in my opinion, 
the President of the United States was the greatest man 
in the country. 

'"Huh! Roosevelt?' he replied, with considerable em- 
phasis in his voice, 'I used to think that Roosevelt was a 
great man until he ate dinner with you. That settled 
him for me.'" 

Mr. Washington goes on to say: "This remark of a 
Florida farmer is but one of the many experiences which 
have taught me something of the curious nature of this 
thing that we call prejudice — social prejudice, race preju- 
dice, and all the rest. I have come to the conclusion that 
these prejudices are something that it does not pay to dis- 
turb. It is best to 'let sleeping dogs lie.' All sections 
of the United States, like all other parts of the world, 
have their own peculiar customs and prejudices. For 
that reason it is the part of common sense to respect them. 
When one goes to European countries, or into the Far 
West, or into India or China, he meets certain customs 
and certain prejudices which he is bound to respect and, 
to a certain extent, comply with. The same holds good 
regarding conditions in the North and in the South. In 
the South it is not the custom for colored and white people 
to be entertained at the same hotel; it is not the custom 
for black and white children to attend the same school. 
In most parts of the North a different custom prevails. I 
have never stopped to question or quarrel with the customs 
124 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

of the people in the part of the country in which I found 
myself." 

And so he acted in the case of the Wanamaker dinner. 
He accepted Mr. Wanamaker's invitation because he was 
in the North and his host was a Northerner. In so doing 
he felt that he was not violating any generally accepted 
custom or universally entertained prejudice of the part of 
the country in which he found himself. Had the in- 
conceivable occurred, and had a Southerner invited him to 
dine in the South, under conditions in all other respects 
identical, he would not have accepted. He would not 
have been willing to incur the resentment of the South even 
had his host been willing to defy local prejudices by in- 
viting him. On the other hand, he felt that the attitude 
of those who would seek to control him in matters of social 
custom when he was not in the South or among Southern- 
ers was unfair and unreasonable. 

An incident which occurred' while he was stopping at the 
Enghsh Hotel in Indianapohs in 1903 furnished copy for 
the more or less sensational press of the country. This 
hotel does not as a rule accept Negroes as guests, but Mr. 
Washington was always a welcome visitor there just as he 
was at many other hotels where less-favored members of 
his race were excluded. He never patronized this hotel or 
any other for the purpose of asserting his rights, but merely 
to obtain the comforts and the seclusion so essential to a 
man who always worked up to the limits of even his great 
strength and usually a little beyond such limits. It is, in- 
deed, quite possible that he might have lived longer had he 

1 25 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

been free to stop at hotels in the South instead of under- 
going the constant wear and tear of being entertained in 
the private homes of the all-too-kind hosts of his own race. 
All public men and lecturers, in a large way of business, 
learn early in their careers that they must decline practi- 
cally all proffers of private hospitality if they are to pre- 
serve their health. 

On this occasion the white chambermaid assigned to care 
for the room he occupied refused to perform her duties so 
far as his room was concerned on the ground, as she stated, 
that she "would not clean up after a nigger." For this re- 
fusal to do her work the management discharged her. The 
Springfield Republican of that date thus describes what 
followed: "A hotel at Houston, Texas, immediately 
offered her a place there, which she accepted, but as mat- 
ters are now going she is more likely to retire from the 
business as a grand lady living on an independent income. 
Her name is upon all tongues in the Southland, and the 
newspapers print long and complimentary accounts of her 
life and the one great deed that has made her famous. 
Citizens and communities vie with each other in con- 
tributing money. . . . Captain John W. Johnson 
of Sheffield, Ala., is organizing a general subscription 
fund from that and neighboring towns. A meeting at 
Houston, Texas, raised $500 for her in the name of a 'self- 
respecting girl.' The Houston Chronicle is conducting 
another popular subscription. Contributions are coming 
into it from all parts of Texas. Citizens of New Orleans 
have raised ^1,000. About twoscore Southern towns and 
126 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

a dozen cities so far figure in the contributions. The move- 
ment extends to Indianapolis, where a gold watch has been 
contiibuted." The hysterical lauding of this " heroine " 
was subsequently wet blanketed by the discovery that she 
had cared for Mr. Washington's room for the first day or 
two of his stay without protest, and by the further dis- 
covery that her second or third husband had recently ob- 
tained a divorce from her. 

It is only fair to add that many of the leading citizens 
of the South strongly deprecated the sensational mag- 
nifying of this trivial incident by a certain section of the 
Southern press. Mr. Washington declined to make 
any comment for publication during or after this petty 
tumult. 

In spite of the three events described, and others of a like 
nature that might be mentioned, no Negro was ever so 
liked, respected, admired, and eulogized by the Southern 
whites as Booker Washington. The day following his 
great speech before the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta 
in 1895 when he went out upon the streets of the city he 
was so besieged by white citizens from the highest to 
the lowest, who wanted to shake his hand and congratu- 
late him, that he was fairly driven in self-defense to remain 
indoors. Not many years after that it had become a com- 
monplace for him to be an honored guest on important 
public occasions throughout the South. On occasions too 
numerous even to note in passing he was welcomed, and 
introduced to great audiences, by Southern Governors, 
Mayors, and other high officials, as well as by eminent 

127 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

private citizens. Such recognition came partly as a 
spontaneous tribute to the great work he was doing and 
partly because of his constantly reiterated assurance that 
the Negro was not seeking either political domination over 
the white man or social intercourse with him. He 
reasoned that the more Southern whites he could convince 
that his people were not seeking what is known as social 
equality or political dominance, the less race friction tiiere 
would be. 

It has already been mentioned that at the opening of the 
first Negro agricultural fair in Albany, Georgia, in the fall 
of 1914, the Mayor of the city and several members of the 
City Council sat on the platform during the exercises and 
listened to his speech with most spontaneous and obvious 
approval. In this part of Georgia the Negroes outnum- 
ber the whites by at least six to one. The afternoon of the 
same day the Mayor invited Booker Washington and his 
party to come to the city hall and confer with himself, the 
other city officials, and a group of prominent private citi- 
zens on the relations between the races in that city and 
locality. At this conference there was a friendly, easy 
interchange of ideas interspersed with jokes and laughter, 
but all the time Mr. Washington was leading them step by 
step to see that by giving the Negroes proper educational 
opportunities they were helping themselves as well as 
the Negroes. Mr. Stowe, who was present at this con- 
ference, noticed to his surprise that some of the arguments 
advanced by Dr. Washington, which seemed to him to be 
almost worn-out truisms, although freshly and strongly ex- 
128 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

pressed, were seized upon by his auditors as new and 
original ideas. When he made this observation to 
Mr. Washington after the meeting he said that several 
other Northerners had under similar circumstances made 
the same observation and then he added: "I only wish 
that it were possible for me to spend several months of each 
year talking with just such groups of representative 
Southern men. They are always responsive, eager to 
understand what we are driving at, and sympathetic when 
they do understand. The necessity for raising money has 
forced us to devote the bulk of our time to educating the 
Northern public to the needs of the situation to the 
neglect of our Southern white neighbors right here about 
us." 

It was an interesting illustration of the illogical workings 
of race prejudice that this man to whom the city fathers 
from the Mayor down gave up practically their entire day 
— this man to whom the city hall was thrown open and at 
whose feet sat the leading citizens as well as the officials of 
the city, could not have found shelter in any hotel in town. 
This man whom the officials and other leading citizens de- 
lighted to honor arrived at night on a Pullman sleeping car 
in violation of the law of the State; and, after all possible 
honor had been paid him, save allowing him to enter a 
hotel, departed the next night by a Pullman sleeper in 
violation of the law! 

This constant "law-breaker" was welcomed and in- 
troduced to audiences by Governor Blanchard of Louisi- 
ana at Shreveport, La.; by Governor Candler at Atlanta, 

129 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Ga.; by Governor Donaghey at Little Rock, Ark.; by 
Governor McCorkle of West Virginia, and successively by 
Governors Jelks and O'Neil of his own State of Alabama. 
Still other Southern Governors spoke from the same plat- 
form with him at congresses, conventions, and meetings of 
various descriptions. 

. Next to South Carolina and Georgia, perhaps no State in 
the Union has shown as much hostility to the progress of 
the Negro as Mississippi. In 1908, in response to the 
urgent appeals of Charles Banks, the Negro banker and 
dominating force of the Negro town of Mound Bayou, Mr. 
Washington agreed to make a tour through Mississippi 
such as he had made three years before through Arkansas 
and what were then Oklahoma and Indian Territories. 
At Jackson, Miss., the management of the State Fair Asso- 
ciation offered the local committee of Negroes the great 
Liberal Arts Building for Mr. Washington's address. In 
the audience were not less than five thousand persons, 
among them several hundred white citizens. Among the 
whites who sat on the platform were Governor Noel, 
Lieutenant-Governor Manship, Bishop Charles B. Gal- 
loway of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, Mr. 
Milsaps, the richest citizen of the State; the postmaster of 
Jackson, the United States Marshal, Hon. Edgar S. Wil- 
son, and a considerable number of other prominent white 
citizens. 

At Natchez, a few nights later, the audience Hterally 
filled every available space in the Grand Opera House and 
overflowed into the adjoining streets. This audience was 
130 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 

in many respects the most remarkable that the city had 
ever seen. The entire orchestra was given over to the 
white citizens of Natchez and Adams County, and still 
there was not room to accommodate them, for they were 
packed in the rear and stood three and four deep in the 
aisles. The colored people were crowded into the balcony 
and the galleries. When Booker Washington arose to 
speak, he was greeted by a perfect whirlwind of applause 
and cheering. He was visibly affected by the reception 
given him by whites as well as blacks. 

When he finished speaking a large delegation headed by 
the Mayor of the city made their way to the platform, wel- 
comed him to the city, thanked him for his address, and 
stated that his influence for good in the city and county 
could not be estimated. 

Mr. J. T. Harahan, of the Illinois Central Railroad, pro- 
vided the Pullman tourist car in which Mr. Washington 
and his party toured the State. It was estimated that 
from sixty to eighty thousand people saw and heard him 
during his seven days' trip. On the conclusion of the tour 
one paper said, "No more popular man ever came into the 
State, white or black, and no man ever spoke to larger 
audiences than he did. He is the only speaker who ever 
filled the Jackson, Miss., Coliseum." 

Only six months before his death Booker Washington 
made a similar tour through Louisiana. Louisiana has al- 
ways been reputed to be in the same category as Mississippi 
in opposing Negro progress. To some of his audiences 
Mr. Washington said that he and his party of twenty-five 

131 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

colored men had felt before they started very much like the 
little girl who was about to go on a trip to Louisiana with 
her parents. The night before they started she said her 
prayer as usual: 

"Now I lay me down to sleep 
I pray the Lord my soul to keep. 
If I should die before I wake, 
I pray the Lord my soul to take." 

With a deep sigh she then added, "Good-bye, Lord, for two 
weeks. We are going down to Louisiana." 

In introducing Mr. Washington to a great audience in 
New Orleans, made up of both races, Mayor Berhman said, 
turning to Booker Washington: 

"The work you are doing for the uplift of your people 
means untold good to the great State of Louisiana and to 
the whole country. Nowhere has your race greater 
opportunities than in Louisiana. If the people of the 
Negro race will follow your teachings, they will help 
materially to bring about a condition that will mean much 
for Louisiana, the South, and the nation. " 

At Shreveport former Governor N. C. Blanchard, in 
introducing Dr. Washington to an audience of over 10,000 
white and colored citizens, said: "I am glad to see this 
goodly attendance of white people, representative white 
people at that, for his Honor, the Mayor, is here, and with 
him are members and officials of the city government and 
132 



MEETING RACE PREJUDICE 
other prominent citizens of our community. They are here 
to give encouragement to Mr. Washington, to hold up his 
hands, for they know that he is leading his people along 
right lines — lines tending to promote better feehng and 
better understanding between the two races. . . . 

"Our country needs to have white and black people, 
sober, honest, frugal, and thrifty. Booker T. Washington 
stands for these things. He advises and counsels and 
leads toward these goals. Hear him and heed his 
words." 

At the invitation of Superintendent Gwinn the colored 
school children of New Orleans were given a half-holiday 
to hear Dr. Washington. He addressed them in an arena 
seating more than five thousand people, which was given 
for the occasion by its white owner. 

To one of these Louisiana audiences Mr. Washington 
said: "Both races in the South suffer at the hands of 
public opinion by reason of the fact that the outside 
world hears of our difficulties, of crimes, mobs, and lynch- 
ings, but it does not hear of or know about the evidences of 
racial friendship and good-will which exist in the majority 
of communities in Louisiana and other Southern States 
where black and white people live together in such large 
numbers. Lynchings are widely reported by telegraph. 
The quiet, effective work of devoted white people in the 
South for Negro uplift is not generally or widely reported. 
The best white citizenship must take charge of the mob 
and not have the mob take charge of civilization. There 
is enough wisdom, patience, forbearance, and common 

133 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

sense in the South for white people and black people to live 
together in peace for all time." 

In short, Booker Washington met race prejudice just as 
he did all other difficulties, as an obstacle to be sur- 
mounted rather than as an injustice to be railed at and de- 
nounced regardless of the consequences. 



134 



CHAPTER SIX 

GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

ONE secret of Booker Washington's leadership was that 
he always had his ear to the ground and his feet on 
the ground. Some one has said that "a practical ideal- 
ist is a man who keeps his feet on the ground even though 
his head is in the clouds." Booker Washington was 
that kind of an idealist. He kept in constant and inti- 
mate touch with the masses of his people, particularly 
with those on the soil. Like the giant in the fable who 
doubled his strength every time he touched the ground, 
Booker Washington seemed to renew his strength every 
time he came in contact with the plain people of his race, 
particularly the farmers. No matter how pressed and 
driven by multifarious affairs, he could always find time 
for a rambling talk, apparently quite at random, with an 
old, uneducated, ante-bellum black farmer. Sometimes he 
would halt the entire business of a national convention in 
order to hear the comment of some simple but shrewd old 
character. He had a profound respect for the wisdom of 
simple people who lived at close grips with the realities of 
life. 

At the 1914 meeting of the National Negro Business 
League at Muskogee, Okla., a Mr. Jake , who had 

13s 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

started as an ignorant orphan boy, delighted Mr. Wash- 
ington's heart when he testified : "When I first started out 
I lived in a chicken house, 12 x 14 feet; now I own a ten- 
room residence, comfortably furnished, and in a settle- 
ment where we have a good school, a good church, and 
plenty of amusement, including ten children." 

After the laughter and applause had subsided Mr. 
Washington asked : " Do you think there is the same kind 
of an opening out here in Oklahoma for other and younger 
men of our race to do as you have done and to succeed 
equally as well?" 

To which Mr. Jake replied: ". . . I think I have 
succeeded with little or no education, and it stands to 
reason that some of the graduates from these industrial 
and agricultural schools ought to be able to do better than 
I have done." 

Which was, of course, just the answer Mr. Washington 
hoped he would make. 

Mr. Washington's instinct for keeping close to the plain 
people was perhaps best illustrated by his tours through 
the far Southern States for the improvement of the living 
conditions of his people, the tours to which allusion has 
several times been made. His insistence upon cleanliness, 
neatness, and paint became so well known that his ap- 
proach to a community frequently caused frantic cleaning 
up of yards, mending of gates, and painting of houses. 
These sudden converts to paint sometimes found out from 
which side the great man was to approach their house and 
painted only that side and the front. 
136 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

When he spoke to his people on these trips he had the 
faculty of becoming one of them. He described their 
daily lives in their own language. He told them how much 
land they owned, how much of it was mortgaged, how 
much and what they raised, and in fact every vital eco- 
nomic and social fact about their lives and the conditions 
about them. He praised them for what was creditable, 
censured and bantered them for what was bad, and told 
them what conditions should be and how they could make 
them so. 

He made these tours through Mississippi, Tennessee, 
North Carolina, South CaroHna, Texas, Florida, Louisi- 
ana, and portions of Alabama and Georgia. 

Besides these State tours he would, whenever he could 
take the time, shoot out into the country surrounding 
Tuskegee Institute to encourage and promote the efforts of 
his neighbors of his own race. In July, 1911, accompanied 
by some guests and members of his faculty, he made such 
a visit to Mt. Olive, a village on the east of Tuskegee. 
The party was first taken to the village church where they 
found a teeming congregation to greet them. Here Mr. 
Washington was introduced by the principal of the 
"Washington School" who said that since Mr. Washing- 
ton's visit eighteen months ago the colored people had 
purchased forty-one lots, built several new houses, white- 
washed or painted the old ones, and increased their gardens 
to such an extent that few, if any, had still to buy their 
vegetables. 

Mr. Washington opened his talk by saying: "It is an 

137 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

inspiration simply to drive through and see your pleasant 
houses surrounded by flowers and gardens and all that goes 
to make life happy." He then appealed to the women 
to make their homes as attractive on the inside as the 
gardens had made them on the outside. He told them 
the best receipt for keeping the men and the children at 
home and out of mischief was to make the homes so at- 
tractive that they would not want to go away. Then, as 
always, before he closed he put in his warnings and in- 
junctions t® the derelict: "Paint your houses; if you can't 
paint them, whitewash them. Put the men to work in 
their spare hours repairing fences, gates, and windows. 
Get together in your church, as you have in your school- 
work, settle on a pastor and get him to live in your com- 
munity. Pay him in order that he may live here and 
become a part of your community." 

On another such trip through the southwestern part of 
Macon County, the county in which Tuskegee is located, 
he was once accompanied by Judge Robert H. Terrell, the 
Negro Judge of the District of Columbia; the Hon. White- 
field McKinlay, the Negro Collector of Customs for the 
District of Columbia; George L. Knox, owner and editor 
of the Indianapolis Freeman, a Negro newspaper; W. T. B. 
Williams, agent for the Anna T. Jeanes Fund and the 
Slater Board; Dr. Thomas Jesse Jones of the United States 
Census Bureau, and Lord Eustace Percy, one of the Secre- 
taries of the British Embassy at Washington. 

One can well imagine with what pride the simple black 
farmers of Macon County displayed their products and 
138 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

their live stock to these distinguished representatives of 
both races headed by their own great neighbor and leader. 
At Mt. Andrew, one of the communities visited, the 
Farmers' Improvement Club had prepared an exhibit 
consisting of the best specimens of vegetables, fruits, and 
meats raised in the community. A report stated that 
the Negro people of the town owned over two hundred 
head of live stock and had over thirty houses which were 
either whitewashed or painted. When called upon for 
remarks, Mr. Washington expressed himself as greatly 
encouraged by what he had seen and said in conclusion, 
"Here in Macon County you have good land that will 
grow abundant crops. You have also a good citizenship, 
and hence there is every opportunity for you to make your 
community a heaven upon earth." 

Booker Washington was always emphasizing the ne- 
cessity of better conditions right here and now instead of 
in a distant future or in heaven. He was constantly 
combating the tendency in his people — a tendency common 
to all people but naturally particularly strong in those 
having a heritage of slavery — to substitute the anticipated 
bliss of a future life for effective efforts to improve the 
conditions of this present life. He was always telling 
them to put their energies into societies for the preserva- 
tion of health and improvement of living conditions, in- 
stead of into the too numerous and popular sick benefit and 
death benefit organizations. 

At the next stop of the party Mr. Washington was 
introduced to the assembled townspeople by a graduate 

139 



\ 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

of Tuskegee Institute, who was one of their leading citizens 
and most successful farmers. In this talk he urged the 
people to get more land and keep it and to grow something 
besides cotton. He said they should not lean upon others 
and should not go to town on Saturdays to "draw upon" 
the merchants, but should stay at home and "draw every 
day from their own soil corn, peas, beans, and hogs." 
He urged the men to give their wives more time to work 
around the house and to raise vegetables. (This, of 
course, instead of requiring them to work in the fields with 
the men as is so common.) He urged especially that 
they take their wives into their confidence and make them 
their partners as well as their companions. He assured 
them that if they took their wives into partnership they 
would accumulate more and get along better in every way. 

There was no advice given by him more constantly or 
insistently in speaking to the plain people of his race, 
whether in country or city, than this injunction to the 
men to take their wives into their confidence and make 
them their partners. He recognized that the home was 
the basis of all progress and civilization for his race, as well 
as all other races, and that the wife and mother is primarily 
the conservator of the home. 

One of the stops of the trip was at a little hamlet called 
Damascus. Here, in characteristic fashion, he told the 
people how much richer they were in soil and all natural 
advantages than were the inhabitants of the original Da- 
mascus in the Holy Land. He then argued that having 
these great natural advantages, much was to be expected 
140 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

of them, etc. Like all great preachers, teachers, and leaders 
of men he seized upon the names, incidents, and conditions 
immediately about him and from them drew lessons of 
fundamental import and universal application. 

The efforts of the Negro farmers on these trips to get a 
word of approval from their great leader were often pa- 
thetic. One old man had a good breed of pigs of which he 
was particularly proud. He contrived to be found feeding 
them beside the road just as the great man and his party 
were passing. The simple ruse succeeded. Mr. Wash- 
ington and his companions stopped and every one admired 
the proud and excited old man's pigs. And then after the 
pigs had been duly admired, he led them to a rough plank 
table upon which he had displayed in tremulous anticipa- 
tion of this dramatic moment a huge pumpkin, some per- 
fectly developed ears of corn, and a lusty cabbage. After 
these objects had also been admired the old man decoyed 
the party into the little whitewashed cottage where his 
wife had her hour of triumph in displaying her jars of 
preserves, pickles, cans of vegetables, dried fruits, and syrup 
together with quilts and other needlework all carefully 
arranged for this hoped-for inspection. 

The basic teaching of all these tours was: "Make your 
own little heaven right here and now. Do it by putting 
business methods into your farming, by growing things in 
your garden the year around, by building and keeping 
attractive and comfortable homes for your children so they 
will stay at home and not go to the cities, by keeping your 
bodies and your surroundings clean, by staying in one 

141 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

place, by getting a good teacher and a good preacher, by 
building a good school and church, by letting your wife be 
your partner in all you do, by keeping out of debt, by 
cultivating friendly relations with your neighbors both 
white and black." 

Mr. Washington was constantly bringing up in the 
Tuskegee faculty meetings cases of distress among the 
colored people of the county, which he had personally dis- 
covered while off hunting or riding, and planning ways and 
means to relieve them. Apparently it never occurred to 
him that technically, at least, the fate of these poor persons 
was not his affair nor that of his school. At one such 
meeting he told of having come upon while hunting a 
tumbledown cabin in the woods, within it a half-para- 
lyzed old Negro obviously unable to care for his simple 
wants. Mr. Washington had stopped, built a fire in his 
stove, and otherwise made him comfortable temporarily, 
but some provision for the old man's care must be made at 
once. One of the teachers knew about the old man and 
stated that he had such an ugly temper that he had driven 
off his wife, son, and daughter who had until recently lived 
with him and taken care of him. The young teacher 
seemed to feel that the old man had brought his troubles 
upon his own head and so deserved little sympathy. Mr. 
Washington would not for a moment agree to this. He 
replied that if the old fellow was so unfortunate as to have 
a bad temper as well as his physical infirmities that was no 
reason why he should be allowed to suffer privation. He 
delegated one of the teachers to look up the old man's 
142 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

family at once and see if they could be prevailed upon to 
support him and to report at the next meeting what had 
been arranged. In the meantime he would send some 
one out to the cabin daily to take him food and attend to 
his wants. 

At another faculty meeting he brought up the plight 
of an old woman who was about to be evicted from her 
little shack on the outskirts of the town because of her 
inability to pay the nominal rent which she was charged. 
He arranged to have her rent paid out of a sum of money 
which he always had included in the school budget for the 
rehef of such cases. In such ways he was constantly im- 
pressing upon his associates the idea that was ever a main- 
spring of his own life — namely, that it was always and 
everywhere the duty of the more fortunate to help the less 
fortunate. 

While he was sometimes severe with his more prosperous 
and better educated associates he was always considerate 
and thoughtful of the ignorant, the old, and the weak. He 
was never too busy to delight the heart of a white-haired 
old man who had been the original cook of the school by 
listening to his stories about the early days, or to discuss 
with another old man his experiences in the Civil War. 
He would never betray the least impatience in listening 
to these old men tell him the same story for the five hun- 
dredth time. Although the real usefulness of both these 
old fellows had long passed he never showed them by word 
or deed that he did not regard them as useful and valuable 
members of his staff. 

143 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Another old character to whom he invariably showed 
kindness and patience was a crack-brained old itinerant 
preacher who kept up an endless stream of unintelligible 
pious jargon. This old fellow would harangue the air for 
hours at a time right outside the Principal's busy office, 
but he would never allow him to be stopped or sent away 
and always sent or gave him a small contribution at the 
conclusion of his tirades, if indeed they could be said to 
have any conclusion. 

Booker Washington had a weakness for the picturesque 
ne'er-do-wells of his race. One such old fellow, who lived 
near Tuskegee and who had always displayed great in- 
genuity in extracting money from him, one day, when he 
was driving down the main street of Tuskegee behind a 
pair of fast and spirited horses, rushed out into the street 
and stopped him as though he had a matter of the greatest 
urgency to impart to him. When Mr. Washington had 
with difficulty reined in his horses and asked him what 
he wanted the old man said breathlessly, "I'se got a 
tirkey for yo' Thanksgivin'!" 

"How much does it weigh?" inquired Mr. Washington. 

"Twelve to fifteen poun'." 

After thanking the old man warmly, Mr. Washington 
started to drive on when the old fellow added, "I jest 
wants to borrow a dollar for to fatten yo' turkey for 
you! 

With a laugh Mr. Washington handed the old man the 
dollar and drove on. He never could be made to feel that 
by these spontaneous generosities he was encouraging 
144 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

thriftlessness and mendicancy. He was incorrigible in his 
unscientific open-handedness with the poor, begging older 
members of his race. 

At the time of the Tuskegee teachers' annual picnic, 
usually held in May, many of these old darkies would 
attend uninvited and armed with huge empty baskets. 
Mr. Washington always greeted them like honored guests 
and allowed them to carry off provisions enough to feed 
large families for days. He would also introduce them 
to the officers and teachers of the school and to any invited 
guests who might be present. 

Old man Harry Varner was the night watchman of the 
school in its early days and a man upon whom Mr. Wash- 
ington very much depended. He lived in a cabin opposite 
the school grounds. After hearing many talks about the 
importance of living in a real house instead of a one or 
two room cabin, old Uncle Harry finally decided that he 
must have a real house. Accordingly he came to his em- 
ployer, told him his feeling in the matter, and laid before 
him his meagre savings, which he had determined to spend 
for a real house. Mr. Washington went with him to select 
the lot and added enough out of his own pocket to the 
scant savings to enable the old man to buy a cow and a pig 
apd a garden plot as well as the house. From then on for 
weeks he and old Uncle Harry would have long and mys- 
terious conferences over the planning of that little four- 
room cottage. It is doubtful if Dr. Washington ever 
devoted more time or thought to planning any of the great 
buildings of the Institute. No potentate was ever half as 

145 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

proud of his palace as Uncle Harry of his four-room cottage 
when it was finally finished and painted and stood forth 
in all its glory to be admired of all men. And Booker 
Washington was scarcely less proud of it than Uncle 
Harry. 

With Uncle Harry Varner, Old Man Brannum, the 
original cook of the school to whom reference has already 
been made, and Lewis Adams of the town of Tuskegee, 
whom Mr. Washington mentions in "Up from Slavery" 
as one of his chief advisers, all unlettered-before-the-war 
Negroes, his relationship was always particularly intimate. 
These three old men enjoyed the confidence of the white 
people of the town of Tuskegee to an unusual extent and 
often acted as ambassadors of good-will between the head 
of the school and his white neighbors when from time to 
time the latter showed a disposition to look askance at 
the rapidly growing institution on the hill beyond the 
town. 

Another intimate friend of Mr. Washington's was 
Charles L. Diggs, known affectionately on the school 
grounds as "Old Man Diggs." The old man had been 
body servant to a Union officer in the Civil War and after 
the war had been carried to Boston, where he became the 
butler in a fashionable Back Bay family. When Mr. 
Washington first visited Boston, as an humble and obscure 
young Negro school teacher pleading for his struggling 
school, he met Diggs, and Diggs succeeded in interesting 
his employers in the sincere and earnest young Negro 
teacher. When years afterward the Institute had grown 
146 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

to the dignity of needing stewards, Mr. Washington em- 
ployed his old friend as steward of the Teachers' Home. 
In all the years thereafter hardly a day passed when Mr. 
Washington was at the school without his having some 
kind of powwow with Old Man Diggs regarding some 
matter affecting the interests of the school. 

To the despair of his family Booker Washington seemed 
to go out of his way to find forlorn old people whom he 
could befriend. He sent provisions weekly to an humble 
old black couple from whom he had bought a tract of 
land for the school. He did the same for old Aunt Harriet 
and her deaf, dumb, and lame son, except that to them he 
provided fuel as well. On any particularly cold day he 
would send one or more students over to Aunt Harriet's 
to find out if she and her poor helpless son were comfort- 
able. Also every Sunday afternoon, to the joy of this 
pathetic couple, a particularly appetizing Sunday dinner 
unfailingly made its appearance. And these were only 
a few of the pensioners and semi-pensioners whom Booker 
Washington accumulated as he went about his kindly 
way. 

One means of keeping in touch with the masses of his 
people which he never neglected was through attending 
the annual National Negro Baptist Conventions. At 
these great gatherings he came in touch with the religious 
leaders of two million Negroes. Notwithstanding the 
fact that he practically collapsed at the annual meeting of 
the National Negro Business League held in Boston in 
August, 1915, and had to be nursed for some weeks fol- 

147 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

lowing before he was even strong enough to return to 
Tuskegee, he insisted in spite of the admonitions of phy- 
sicians and the pleadings of friends, family, and colleagues, 
in keeping his engagement to speak before this great con- 
vention in Chicago in September. To all protests he re- 
plied, "It would do me more harm to stay away than to 
go." With these words, and rallying the rapidly waning 
dregs of his once great strength he went and made an 
address which ranks with the most powerful he ever deliv- 
ered to his people. A threatened split in the Baptist 
denomination in part accounted for his insistence upon 
attending this convention. In this address, delivered only 
two months before he died of sheer exhaustion, and the 
last he made before any great body of his own people, he 
said in part: 

"My only excuse for accepting your invitation to ap- 
pear before you in these annual gatherings is that I am 
deeply interested in all that this National Baptist Con- 
vention stands for. It is in my opinion the largest and 
most representative body of colored people anyw^here in 
the world. ... I believe most profoundly in the 
work of this convention because it represents the common 
masses of all our people, those who are the foundation of 
our success as a race. I believe in you because you do not 
pretend to represent the classes but the masses of our 
people. I am here, too, because the Baptist Church 
among our people throughout the country is affording 
them an opportunity to get lessons in self-government in a 
degree that is true of few other organizations. 
148 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

"You who control this great convention have before 
you a great opportunity and along with this opportunity 
a tremendous responsibility. It is given to you, as to all 
men, to pursue one of two courses, and that is, to be big 
leaders or little leaders. You can construct or you can 
destroy. The time is now at hand when in each individual 
church organization and each district association and each 
State convention and in this great national convention, the 
little man must give way and let the big, broad, generous 
man take his place. Nothing is ever gained in business, 
in education, or in religious work by being little, narrow, or 
jealous in our sympathies and activities." 

Two days later, after he had left the convention and re- 
turned home, Mr. Washington received word that the 
convention had split, contending leaders holding out for 
what they termed principles. Immediately on the receipt 
of this report he dispatched the following telegram to the 
leaders of the two opposing factions: 



I earnestly beg and urge that each convention remain 
in session until all differences are composed. In the 
event this cannot be done I hope each convention will 
empower a small committee or authorize some one to 
appoint committees that may have power in settling pres- 
ent difficulties so that next year there may be but one con- 
vention. It is easier now to bring about reconciliation 
than it will be later. It will be a calamity to the Baptist 
Church and to our race for the present split to continue. 
It will soon spread to all the Baptist churches in all the 
States. I would urge that each side manifest a broad 

149 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

liberal spirit and be willing to sacrifice something for the 
good of the cause. Millions of our humble people through- 
out the country are depending upon our leaders to settle 
their difficulties in a Christian spirit and they should not 
be disappointed. If I may be used at any time in any 
way my services are at your command. Have sent a 

similar telegram to Dr. . 

[Signed] Booker T. Washington. 

Unhappily he did not have the satisfaction of bringing 
the two factions together before he died, but until the last 
he continued his eflForts in this direction. 

Largely because of his intimate knowled'ge of the plain 
people Booker Washington appealed to the great of the 
earth. In his books, "Up from Slavery," "The Story of 
My Life and Work," and "My Larger Education," he 
tells of taking tea with Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle, 
of his association with Presidents McKinley, Roosevelt, 
and Taft, of his introduction to Prince Henry of Prussia, 
of his dining with the King and Queen of Denmark, and 
of his long friendships with William H. Baldwin, Jr., 
Robert C. Ogden, Henry H. Rogers, John D. Rockefeller, 
and Andrew Carnegie. He was of value and interest 
to such people largely because of his closeness to his own 
people. His power to interest such people was largely 
because he was so close to the rank and file of his own 
people. 

After the death of Henry H. Rogers, Mr. Washington 
said of him in an interview published at the time in the 
New York Evening Post: "The more experiences I have of 
ISO 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

the world, the more I am convinced that the only proper 
and the only safe way to judge any one is at first hand and 
by your actual experience. It seems to me that, outside 
of the immediate members of my family, I knew the late 
Henry H. Rogers during the last fifteen years as well as I 
could know any one. Of all the men that I have ever 
known intimately, no matter what their station in life, 
Mr. Rogers always impressed me as being among the kind- 
est and gentlest. That was the impression he made upon 
me the first time I ever met him, and during the fifteen 
years that I knew him that impression was deepened every 
time I met him." (And this was Booker Washington's 
impression of the second greatest figure in the building 
up of the huge, world-powerful corporation whose meth- 
ods during its period of rapid expansion had at that time 
been only recently described in McClure's Magazine by 
Ida M. Tarbell.) "I am sure that the members of his 
family will forgive me for telling, now that he has laid 
down his great work and gone to rest, some things about 
him which I feel that the public should know but which 
he always forbade me to mention while he lived. 

"The first time I ever met Mr. Rogers was in this 
manner: about fifteen years ago a large meeting was held 
in Madison Square Garden concert hall, to obtain funds 
for the Tuskegee Institute. Mr. Rogers attended the 
meeting, but came so late that, as the auditorium was 
crowded, he could not get a seat. He stood in the 
back part of the hall, however, and listened to the 
speaking. 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

"The next morning I received a telegram from him ask- 
ing me to call at his office. When I entered he remarked 
that he had been present at the meeting the night previous, 
and expected the 'hat tso be passed,' but as that was not 
done he wanted to 'chip in' something. Thereupon he 
handed me ten one-thousand-dollar bills for the Tuskegee 
Institute. In doing this he imposed only one condition, 
that the gift should be mentioned to no one. Later on, 
however, when I told him that I did not care to take so 
large a sum of money without some one knowing it, he con- 
sented that I tell one or two of our Trustees about the 
source of the gift. I cannot now recall the number of 
times that he has helped us, but in doing so he always in- 
sisted that his name be never used. He seemed to enjoy 
making gifts in currency." 

In an article published in McClure's Magazine in May, 
1902, Rear-Admiral Robley D. Evans thus describes the 
occasion on which he presented Booker Washington to 
Prince Henry of Prussia: "The first request made by 
Prince Henry, after being received in New York, was that 
I should arrange to give him some of the old Southern 
melodies, if possible, sung by Negroes; that he was pas- 
sionately fond of them, and had been all his life — not the 
ragtime songs, but the old Negro melodies. Several times 
during his trip I endeavored to carry out his wishes, with 
more or less success; but finally, at the Waldorf-Astoria, 
the Hampton singers presented themselves in one of the 
reception rooms and gave him a recital of Indian and Negro 
melodies. He was charmed. And while I was talking to 
152 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

him, just after a Sioux Indian had sung a lullaby, he sud- 
denly turned and said: 'Isn't that Booker T. Washington 
over there?' I recognized Washington and replied that it 
was, and he said: 'Evans, would you mind presenting him 
to me ? I know how some of your people feel about Wash- 
ington, but I have always had great sympathy with the 
African race, and I want to meet the man I regard as the 
leader of that race.' So I went at once to Washington and 
told him that the Prince wished him to be presented, and 
took him, myself, and presented him to the Prince. 
Booker Washington sat down and talked with him for fully 
ten minutes, and it was a most interesting conversation, 
one of the most interesting I ever heard in my life. The 
ease with which Washington conducted himself was very 
striking, and I only accounted for it afterward when I re- 
membered that he had dined with the Queen of England 
two or three times, so that this was not a new thing for him. 
Indeed, Booker Washington's manner was easier than that 
of almost any other man I saw meet the Prince in this 
country. The Prince afterward referred to President 
Roosevelt's action in regard to Booker Washington, and 
applauded it very highly." 

In 191 1 Mr. Washington visited Denmark with the par- 
ticular purpose of observing the world-famed agricultural 
methods of that country. While in Copenhagen he was 
presented to the King and Queen. This experience he de- 
scribed on his return to this country in an article published 
in the New York Age, the well-known Negro paper, in De- 
cember of the same year. The portion of the article de- 

153 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

scribing his meeting with the King and Queen reads as fol- 
lows: 

"Soon after I entered, the Chamberlain went in and 
presently returned to tell me the King would be ready to 
see me in about five minutes. At the end of the five min- 
utes exactly the door was opened and I found myself in the 
King's chamber. I had expected to see a gorgeously 
fitted apartment, something to compare with what I had 
seen elsewhere in the palace. Imagine my surprise when I 
found practically nothing in the room except the King, 
himself. There was not a chair, a sofa, or, so far as I can 
recall, a single thing in the way of furniture — nothing ex- 
cept the King and his sword. I was surprised again, con- 
sidering the formality by which he was surrounded, by the 
familiar and kindly manner in which the King received me, 
and by his excellent English. Both of us remained stand- 
ing during the whole interview, which must have lasted 
twenty minutes. I say we remained standing, because, 
even had etiquette permitted it we could not have done 
anything else because there was nothing in the room for 
either of us to sit upon. 

"I had been warned by the American Minister and Mr. 
Cavling, however, as to what might be the result of this 
interview. Among other things in regard to which I had 
been carefully instructed by the American Minister was I 
must never turn my back upon the King, that I must not 
lead off in any conversation, that I must let the King sug- 
gest the subjects to be discussed, and not take the initiative 
in raising any question for discussion. I tried to follow 
Minister Egan's instructions in this regard as well as I 
could, but I fear I was not wholly successful. 

"I had not been talking with the King many minutes be- 

154 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

fore I found that he was perfectly famiHar with the work of 
the Tuskegee school, that he had read much that I had writ- 
ten, and was well acquainted with all that I was trying to do 
for the Negroes in the South. He referred to the fact that 
Denmark was interested in the colored people in their own 
colony in the Danish West Indies, and that both he and the 
Queen were anxious that something- be done for the colored 
people in the Danish possessions similar to what we were 
doing at Tuskegee, He added that he hoped at some time 
I would find it possible to visit the Danish West Indian 
Islands. 

"As I have said, I had been warned as to what might be 
the result of this visit to the King and that I had best be 
careful how I made my plans for the evening. As the 
interview was closing, the King took me by the hand and 
said, 'The Queen would be pleased to have you dine 
at the palace to-night,' at the same time naming the 
hour. 

"The Minister had told me that this was his way of 
commanding persons to dine, and that an invitation given 
must be obeyed. Of course I was delighted to accept the 
invitation, though I feared it would wreck my plans for 
seeing the country people. The King was so kind and put 
me so at my ease in his presence that I fear I forgot Min- 
ister Eagan's warning not to turn my back upon him, and I 
must confess that I got out of the room in about the same 
way I usually go out of the room when I have had an 
audience with President Taft. 

"Leaving the King and the palace, I found out on the 
street quite a group of newspaper people, most of them rep- 
resenting American papers, who were very anxious to 
know, in the usual American fashion, just what took place 
during the interview, how long I was with the King, what 
we talked about, and what not. They were especially 

iS5 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

anxious to know if I had been invited to the palace for 
dinner." 

And further on he thus describes the dinner: 

"The dinner was not at the palace where I was received 
in the morning, but at the summer palace several miles out 
of Copenhagen. When I reached the hotel from the 
country it soon dawned upon me that I was in great 
danger of being late. To keep a King and Queen and 
their guests waiting on one for dinner would of course be an 
outrageous offense. I dressed as hastily as I was able, but 
just as I was putting on the finishing touches to my cos- 
tume my white tie bursted. I was in a predicament from 
which for a moment I saw no means of rescuing myself. 
I did not have time to get another tie, and of course I could 
not wear the black one. As well as I could, however, I put 
the white tie about my neck, fastened it with a pin, and 
earnestly prayed that it might remain in decent position 
until the dinner was over. Nevertheless, I trembled all 
through the dinner for fear that my tie might go back on 
me. 

"I succeeded in reaching the summer palace about ten 
minutes before the time to go into the dining-room. Here 
again I was met by the King's Chamberlain by whom I 
was conveyed through a series of rooms and, finally, into 
the presence of the King, who, after some conversation, 
led me where the Queen was standing and presented me to 
her. The Queen received me graciously and even cordially. 
She spoke English perfectly, and seemed perfectly familiar 
with my work. I had, however, a sneaking idea that Min- 
ister Egan was responsible for a good deal of the familiarity 
which both the King and' Queen seemed to exhibit regard- 
ing Tuskegee. 

iS6 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

"As I entered the reception-room there were about 
twenty or twenty-five people who were to be entertained at 
dinner. I will not attempt to describe the elegance, not to 
say splendor, of everything in connection with the dinner. 
As I ate food for the first time in my fife out of gold dishes, 
I could not but recall the time when as a slave boy I ate my 
syrup from a tin plate. 

"I think I got through the dinner pretty well by follow- 
ing my usual custom, namely, of watching other people to 
see just what they did and what they did not do. There 
was one place, however, where I confess I made a failure. 
It is customary at the King's table, as is true at other 
functions in many portions of Europe, I understand, to 
drink a silent toast to the King. This was so new and 
strange to me that I decided that, since I did not 
understand the custom, the best thing was to frankly 
confess my ignorance. I reassured myself with the re- 
flection that people will easier pardon ignorance than 
pretense. 

"At a certain point during the dinner each guest is ex- 
pected, it seems, to get the eye of the King and then rise 
and drink to the health of the King. When he rises he 
makes a bow to the King and the King returns the bow. 
Nothing is said by either the King or the guest. I think 
practically all the invited guests except myself went 
through this performance. It seemed to me a very fitting 
way of expressing respect for the King, as the head of a 
nation and as a man, and now that I know something 
about it, I think if I had another chance I could do myself 
credit in that regard. 

" During the dinner I had the privilege of meeting a very 
interesting old gentleman, now some eighty years of age, 

the uncle of the King, Prince , who spoke good 

English. I had a very interesting conversation with him, 

IS7 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

and since returning to America I have had some corres- 
pondence with him. 

"As I have already said, the Queen Mother of England 
was at this time in Copenhagen, and as I afterward learned, 
her sister, the Queen Mother of Russia, was also there. As 
both of these were in mourning on account of the recent 
death of King Edward, they did not appear at this dinner. 
I was reminded of their presence, however, when as I was 
leaving the King's palace after my interview in the morn- 
ing, one of the marshals presented me with two auto- 
graph books, with the request that I inscribe my name in 
them. One of the books, as I afterward learned, belonged 
to the Queen Mother of England; the other belonged to 
the Queen Mother of Russia. 

A mere catalogue of the principal organizations which 
Booker T. Washington founded for the purpose of helping 
his people to help themselves tells a story of constructive 
achievement more impressive than any amount of abstract 
eulogy. 

The following is a list of such organizations given in 
chronological order with a few words of description for the 
purpose of identifying each: 

In 1884 he founded the Teachers' Institute, consisting of 
summer courses, conferences, and exhibits having as their 
main purpose the extension of the advantages of Tuskegee 
Institute to the country school teachers of the surrounding 
country. The work of this Institute is described in the 
chapter: "Washington, the Educator." 

In 1891 he established the Annual Tuskegee Negro Con- 
ference. He decided that the school should not only help 

158 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

directly its own students, but should reach out and help the 
students' parents and the older people generally in the 
country districts of the State. He started by inviting the 
farmers and their wives in the immediate locality to spend 
a day at the school for the frank discussion of their ma- 
terial and spiritual condition to the end that the school 
might learn how it could best help them to help themselves. 
From this simple beginning the Conference has grown until 
it now consists of delegates from every Southern State, be- 
sides hundreds of teachers and principals of Negro schools. 
Northern men and women, publicists and philanthropists, 
newspaper and magazine writers, Southern white men and 
Southern white women, all interested in helping the simple 
black folk in their strivings to "quit libin' in de ashes," as 
one of them fervently expressed it. At one of these con- 
ferences an old preacher from a country district concluded 
an earnest prayer for the deliverance of his people from the 
bondage of ignorance with this startling sentence: "And 
now, O Lord, put dy foot down in our hearts and HP us 
up!" 

The year following Mr. Washington established a hos- 
pital in Greenwood village, the hamlet adjoining the In- 
stitute grounds where live most of the teachers, officers, and 
employees. It was at first hardly more than a dispensary, 
but when the Institute acquired a Resident Physician two 
small buildings were set aside as hospitals for men and 
women, respectively. Later a five-thousand-dollar build- 
ing was given which served as the hospital until, in 1913, 
Mrs. Elizabeth A. Mason, of Boston, presented Tuskegee 

IS9 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

with a fifty-thousand-dollar splendidly equipped modern 
hospital, in memory of her grandfather, John A. Andrew, 
the War Governor of Massachusetts. While these hos- 
pitals, from the first humble dispensary to the fine hospital 
of to-day, were of course primarily for the Institute they 
were in true Tuskegee fashion thrown open to all who 
needed them. And since the town of Tuskegee has no 
hospital they have always been freely used by outside 
colored people. Mr. Washington, himself, on his riding 
and hunting trips would from time to time find sick people 
whom he would have brought to the hospital for care. 

The next year, 1893, he started the Minister's Night 
School. This is conducted by the Phelps Hall Bible 
Training School of the Institute. Here country ministers 
with large families and small means are given night 
courses in all the subjects Hkely to be of service to them 
from "Biblical criticism" to the "planting and cultivating 
or crops. 

The year following Mrs. Washington began the Tuske- 
gee Town Mothers' Meetings. Both she and Mr. Wash- 
ington had long been distressed at seeing the women and 
young girls loafing about the streets of the town of Tuske- 
gee when they came to town with their husbands and 
fathers on Saturday afternoons. Now, instead of loafing 
about the streets these women attend the Mothers' Meet- 
ings where Mrs. Washington and the various women 
teachers give them practical talks on all manner of house- 
keeping and family-raising problems from the making of 
preserves to proper parental care. 
160 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

In 1895 the Building and Loan Association was estab- 
lished. The Institute's chief accountant is its president, 
and the Institute's treasurer its secretary and treasurer. 
This Association has enabled many scores of people to 
secure their own homes who without its aid could not have 
done so. 

The next year the Town Night School was started. This 
school has as its purpose giving instruction to the boys and 
girls who have positions in the town which make it im- 
possible for them to attend the Institute, and to the ser- 
vants in the white families. This school has become one of 
the best and strongest forces in the life of the community. 
As an outgrowth of it came later the Town Library and 
Reading Room, for which Mr. Washington personally 
provided the room. There is now in this school a cooking 
class for girls and several industrial classes for boys. At 
the same time Mr. Washington established a Farmers' In- 
stitute which is described in the chapter "Washington and 
the Negro Farmer." 

In 1898 he started a County Fair to spur the ambition of 
the Negro farmers of the county. This Negro County 
Fair under his guidance grew and flourished from year to 
year. The whites maintained a separate County Fair. 
Finally the two fairs were combined, and now one of the 
most flourishing County Fairs in all the South is conducted, 
both races supporting it by making exhibits, and sharing in 
the success and profits of the enterprise, as well as in its 
general management. 

In 1900 he organized the National Negro Business 

161 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

League, as described in the chapter, "Washington and the 
Negro Business Man." 

Two years later he established the Greenwood Village 
Improvement Association for the little community which 
has grown up around the school. Taxes are collected from 
the property holders as well as the renters for the upkeep 
of the roads, bridges, and fences, and a park in the centre of 
the village, which v/as introduced in emulation of the 
typical New England village. Just as in New England, 
also, this central park, or "green," is surrounded by a num- 
ber of churches. An elective Board of Control presides 
over this village, settles disputes, and keeps the community 
in good repair morally and spiritually, as well as physically. 
On the Monday immediately following the close of a regu- 
lar school term a town meeting is held at which reports are 
read and discussed covering every phase of the life of the 
community. Mr. Washington particularly enjoyed pre- 
siding at these meetings because they demonstrated what 
the people of his race could accomplish under a favorable 
and stimulating environment. He always contrived to 
have the meetings followed by simple refreshments and a 
social hour. 

In 1904 he started the Rural School Improvement Cam- 
paign and the Farmers' Short Course at the Institute, both 
of which are described in the chapter, "Washington, the 
Educator." In the same year he started a systematic 
effort to improve the conditions in the jails and the chain 
gangs and for the rehabilitation of released prisoners. 

The next year he founded a weekly farm paper, a cir- 
162 



GETTING CLOSE TO THE PEOPLE 

culating library, and a Ministers' Institute. The year 
after, 1906, the Jesup Agricultural Wagon — the agri- 
cultural school on wheels, which is described in the chap- 
ter, "Washington, the Educator" — was started. In 1907 
the farmers' cooperative demonstration work, which has 
also been mentioned, was inaugurated. In 1910 the rural 
improvement speaking tours began. And finally, in 1914, 
he established "Baldwin Farms," the farming community 
for the graduates of the agricultural department of Tus- 
kegee, which also has been previously described. 

These, then, are some of the tangible means which 
Booker Washington developed during a period of thirty 
years for keeping in touch with his people and for keeping 
his people in touch with one another and with all the 
things which go to make up wholesome and useful living. 



163 



CHAPTER SEVEN 

BOOKER WASHINGTON AND THE NEGRO 

FARMER 

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON was a great believer in the 
experience meeting, and the Tuskegee Negro Conference, 
which he started in 1891, is nothing more nor less than an 
agricultural experience meeting. He placed his faith in the 
persuasive power of example — in the contagion of successful 
achievement. He once said: "One farm bought, one house 
built, one home sweetly and intelligently kept, one man who 
is the largest taxpayer or has the largest bank account, one 
school or church maintained, one factory running success- 
fully, one truck garden profitably cultivated, one patient 
cured by a Negro doctor, one sermon well preached, one 
office well filled, one life cleanly lived— these will tell more 
in our favor than all the abstract eloquence that can be 
summoned to plead our cause. Our pathway must be up 
through the soil, up through swamps, up through forests, 
up through the streams, the rocks, up through commerce, 
education, and religion." 

Nothing delighted Mr. Washington more than the suc- 
cessful Negro farmers who had started in life without 
money, friends, influence, or education — with literally 
nothing but their hands. At one of the Tuskegee confer- 
164 



THE NEGRO FARMER 

ences not many years ago his keen eyes spotted such a 
man in the audience and he called to him in his straight 
from the shoulder manner: "Get up and tell us what you 
have been doing as a farmer." 

A tall, finely built, elderly man, looking almost like a 
Nubian giant, arose in his place, his face wreathed in 
smiles, and showing his white teeth as he spoke: "Doctor, 
I done 'tended one o' yore conferences here 'bout ten year 
ago. I heard you say dat a man ain't wurth nuthin' as 
a man or a citizen 'less he owns his home, 'least one mule, 
and has a bank account, an' so I made up my mind dat 
I warn't wuth nuthin', an' so I went home an' talked de 
whole matter over wid de ol' woman. We decided dat we 
would make a start, an' now I's proud to tell you dat I's 
not only got a bank account, but I's got two bank ac- 
counts, an' heah's de bank books (proudly holding on 
high two grimy bank books); I also own two hun'ed acres 
of land an' all de land is paid for. I also own two mules, 
an' bofe dem mules is paid for. I also own some other 
property, an' de ole woman an' me an' de chilluns lives in 
a good house an' de house is paid for. All dis come 'bout 
from my comin' to dis heah conference." 

Another old fellow, when called upon to tell what he 
had accomplished, dexterously evaded the direct inquiry 
for some minutes, and when Mr. Washington finally suc- 
ceeded in pinning him down, said: "All I's got to say, 
Doctah Washington, is dat dis heah conference dun woke 
me up an' I'll be back heah next year wid a report gist 
like dese oder fellers." 

i6s 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Mr. Washington was a great believer in his favorite 
animal, the pig, as a mortgage lifter and general aid to 
prosperity. At one of the conferences, after he had paid 
a particularly warm eulogy to the economic importance 
of the pig, an old woman got up and said: "Mr. Wash- 
ington, you is got befo' you now Sister Nelson of Talla- 
poosa County, Alabama. All I has I owes to dis confer- 
ence and one little puppy dog." 

Mr. Washington challenged: "How's that?" 

The old woman continued:,"! got a little pig from dat 
little puppy dog an' I got my prosperity from dat pig!" 

Mr. Washington and the whole company in amazement 
hung upon the old woman's words as she continued: "It 
was dis way: Dat little puppy dog when she growed up 
had some little puppies herself. One day one o' my fren's 
come by an' as' me for one o' dem puppies. I tol' him 
*No,' I would not gib him dat puppy, but dat he had a 
little pig an' I would 'change a puppy for a pig. I had 
heard you tell ober heah so much 'bout hogs an' pigs dat 
I thought dis was a good chance to get started. He give 
me de pig an' I give him de puppy. In de course o' time 
dat little pig dun bring me in some mo' pigs. I sol' some 
an' kep' some. I had to feed de pig, so I had begun savin'. 
I den begun to find out dat I could git on wid less den I 
had ben gettin' on wid, an' so I kep' on savin' an' kep' on 
raisin' pigs 'til I was able to supply most o' my neighbors 
wid pigs, an' den I got me a cow, an den I begun to supply 
my neighbors wid milk, an' den I started me a little garden. 
Den I sol' my neighbors greens an' onions, an' so I went 
i66 • 



THE NEGRO FARMER 

on fum time to time 'til I dun paid for de lot an' de house 
in which I lib, an' I keeps my pigs about me an' keeps 
my garden goin', an' dat's why I says all I is I owes to dat 
little puppy dog an' to dis heah conference." 

At these conferences the most elementary subjects are 
discussed. Booker Washington would tell and have told 
to these farmers matters which one would naturally assume 
any farmers, however ignorant, must already know. He 
never tried to deceive himself as to the woful ignorance 
of the Negro masses, and still he was never discouraged, 
but always said ignorance was not a hopeless handicap 
because it could be overcome by education. While he 
frankly although sadly acknowledged the lamentable ig- 
norance of the rank and file of his race, particularly those 
on the soil and dependent for education upon the short-term, 
ill-equipped, and poorly taught rural Negro school, he as 
stoutly denied and constantly disproved the assertion that 
these ignorant masses were not capable of profiting by 
education. He earnestly strove and signally succeeded in 
attracting to these great annual agricultural conferences 
the most pathetically ignorant of the Negro farmers as 
well as the leading scientific agriculturists of the race. But 
he always insisted that the meetings be conducted for the 
benefit of the ignorant and not in the interests of the 
learned. 

He would, for instance, tell the attendants at the con- 
ferences what to plant and when to plant it, and what live 
stock to keep and how to keep it. He would have printed 
and distributed among them a "Farmer's Calendar" 

167 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

which gave the months in which the various standard 
vegetables should be planted and what crops should be 
used in rotation. He constantly insisted that the Experi- 
ment Station at Tuskegee Institute, supported by the 
State of Alabama, should not be used for scientific experi- 
ments of interest only to experts, but should deal with 
the fundamental problems with which the Negro farmers 
of Alabama were daily confronted. The titles of some of 
the Experiment Station Bulletins selected at random sug- 
gest the homely and practical nature of the information 
disseminated. Half a dozen of them read as follows: 
"Possibilities of the Sweet Potato in Macon County, 
Alabama," "How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of 
Preparing It for Human Consumption," "How to Raise 
Pigs with Little Money," "When, What, and How to 
Can and Preserve Fruits and Vegetables in the Home," 
"Some Possibilities of the Cov/pea in Macon County, 
Alabama," "A New and Prolific Variety of Cotton." And 
all of these bulletins, so many of which deal with the prob- 
lems of the home, are written by an old bachelor of pure 
African descent, without a drop of white blood, who in 
himself refutes two popular fallacies: the one that bache- 
lors cannot be skilled in domestic affairs, and the other, 
that pure-blooded Africans cannot achieve intellectual 
distinction. This man is George W. Carver, who is not 
only the most eminent agricultural scientist of his race in 
this country, but one of the most eminent of any race. 
His work is so well known in scientific circles in his field 
throughout the world that when leading European scien- 
168 



THE NEGRO FARMER 

tists A-isit this countn.", particularly the Southern States, 
they not infrequently go out of their way to look him up. 
They are usually ver\- much surprised to find their eminent 
fellow-scientist a black man. 

The last ct these conferences over which Booker ^^ ash- 
ington presided was held at Tuskegee, January." co and 
21,, 1915. A woman, the wife of a Xegro farmer, was testi- 
f^'ing when she said: "Our menfolks is foun' out dat they 
can't eat cotton." As the outburst of laughter which 
greeted this remark died down, Mr. ^^ ashington said m 
his incisive way: '"What do you mean:" The woman re- 
plied: 'T mean dat we womenfolks been tellin' our men- 
folks all de time dat they should raise mo to eat." 

She then displayed specimens of canned fruits and told 
how she had put up enough of them to supply her family 
until summer. She told of having sold thirty-six turkeys 
and of selling two and three dozen eggs each week, with 
plenty left over for her family. She said that she and 
her husband had raised and sold hogs, and still had for 
their own use more than enough pork to last them until 
the next hog-killmg time. 

'"How often do you eat chicken r " asked Dr. \\ ashington. 

''We can eat chicken even.- day if we want it,"" she 
repHed. 

^^lien she had finished r^Ir. Washington explained that 
all this had been done on ijS acres of the poorest land in 
Macon County. 

In his opening address at this conference Mr. "W ash- 
ington denounced '"petty thie^Tng, pistol-toting, crap- 

169 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

shooting, the patronizing of 'blind tigers,' and unneces- 
sary lawsuits" as some of the weights and encumbrances 
which are keeping the Negro from running well the race 
which is set before him. 

These are some of the basic questions which Booker 
Washington placed before the conference for discussion: 

"How and why am I so hard hit by the present hard 
times?" 

"What am I doing to meet present conditions?" 

"How may I, after all, get some real benefit from present 
difficulties?" 

The most spectacular feature of the exercises was the 
parade. It extended for almost a mile and included a 
score or more of floats, hundreds of men and women in 
appropriate costumes, and dozens of horses, mules, and 
other live stock. 

There were a large number of colored preachers in 
attendance who showed that they had adopted the Wash- 
ington slogan of trying to make a heaven on earth and 
whose testimony showed that they were now giving as 
much time to soil salvation as to soul salvation. One 
of them told of a flourishing Pig Club which he had organ- 
ized among his parishioners after reading Mr. Washing- 
ton's open letter, "Pigs and Education; Pigs and Debts," 
the circulating of which will be later described. 

After the awarding of prizes for the best floats the 
declarations of the conference were read by Major R. R. 
Moton of Hampton Institute, who then little realized 
that before the year was out he was to be chosen to suc- 
170 




This old woman was a regular attendant at theTuskegee Negro Con- 
ference and idolizingly watched Mr. Washington during the whole four 
hours that he would preside over one of the Conference sessions 



THE NEGRO FARMER 

ceed the leader of his race as the Principal of Tuskegee 
Institute. 

The following were the especially significant paragraphs 
of these declarations: 

"It is found that for every dollar's worth of cotton we 
grow, we raise only forty-nine cents' worth of all other 
crops. An investigation has shown that there are 20,oco 
farms of Negroes on which there are no cattle of any kind; 
270,000 on which there are no hogs; 200,000 on which no 
poultry is raised; 140,000 on which no corn is grown; on 
750,000 farms of Negroes no oats are grown; on 550,000 
farms no sweet potatoes are grown, and on 200,000 farms 
of Negroes there are no gardens of any sort. These hun- 
dreds of thousands of farms without cattle, grain, or gar- 
dens are for the most part operated by tenants. In their 
behalf, the Tuskegee Negro Conference respectfully re- 
quests of the planters, bankers, and other representatives 
of the financial interests of the South that more oppor- 
tunities be given Negro tenants on plantations to grow 
crops other than cotton." 

After the regular conference the usual Conference of 
Workers was held. This conference is composed of people 
such as heads of schools and colleges, preachers, teachers, 
and persons generally holding responsible positions of lead- 
ership in their respective communities. These leaders 
discuss the larger community problems in distinction 
from individual problems. At this gathering, for instance, 
the principal of the County High School at Cottage 
Grove, Ala., explained how through diversified farming the 

171 



/ 
/ 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

parents of his students had been able to live while holding 
their cotton for higher prices. 

Some of the principals of schools told how they had 
accepted cotton as payment of tuition for some of their 
students. Others had taken in payment barrels of syrup, 
sacks of corn, and hogs. All the schools reported cutting 
expenses, by reduction of their dietary, the salaries of 
teachers, or some other forms of retrenchment, meaning 
sacrifice for students or teachers, or both, that the work of 
education might continue and weather the hard times. 
In concluding the conference Booker Washington ex- 
plained the terms of the recently enacted Smith Lever 
Act for Federal aid in the extension of agricultural educa- 
tion throughout the rural districts of the country. Thus 
ended the twentieth session of the great Tuskegee Negro 
Conference and the last session presided over by the 
Founder of the Conference. It was most appropriate that 
this, his last conference, should have so unanimously and 
effectively applied one of the leading tenets of Booker 
Washington's teaching— namely, the winning of lasting 
profit from the experiences of adversity. 

As well as these annual Farmers' Conferences there are 
held at Tuskegee monthly meetings for the farmers from 
the locality where they display their products, tell of their 
successes and failures, and compare notes on their experi- 
ences all under the expert leadership, guidance, and advice 
of the staff of the agricultural department of the Institute. 
Every month, or oftener, there is an agricultural exhibit in 
which the best products of the various crops such as pota- 
172 



THE NEGRO FARMER 

toes, corn, and cotton are displayed, and the methods used 
in their production explained by figures and graphic charts. 
As early as 1895 Booker Washington started a campaign 
to get his people to raise more pigs. This campaign he 
revived at intervals, and for the last time in the fall of 
1914, when the whole country and particularly the South 
was suffering from the first acute depression caused by the 
European War. In the Southern States this depression 
was, of course, especially acute because the European 
market for cotton was for the time being cut off. As one 
of the means to aid his people in this trying time he sent 
the following letter to the entire press of the South of 
both races: 

"pigs and education; pigs and debts" 

To the Editor: 

Our race is in constant search of means with which to 
provide better homes, schools, colleges, and churches, and 
with which to pay debts. This is especially true during 
the hard financial conditions obtaining on account of the 
European War. All of this cannot be done at once, but 
great progress can be made by a good strong pull together 
in a simple, direct manner. How? 

There are 1,400,000 colored families who live on farms or 
in villages, or small towns. Of this number, at the present 
time, 700,000 have no pigs. I want to ask that each 
family raise at least one pig this fall. Where one or more 
pigs are already owned, I want to ask that each family 
raise one additional pig this fall. 

As soon as possible, I want to ask that this plan be fol- 
lowed by the organization of a Pig Club in every com- 

173 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

munity where one does not already exist. I want to 
ask that the matter be taken up at once through families, 
schools, churches, and societies, Farmers' Institutes, Busi- 
ness Leagues, etc. 

The average pig is valued at about ^5. If each family 
adds only one pig, in a few months at the present price for 
hogs, $10 would be added to the wealth of the owner, and 
$14,000 to the wealth of the colored people. If each 
family adds two pigs, it would have in a few months $20 
more wealth, and $28,000 would be added with which to 
promote the welfare of the race during the money strin- 
gency created by the European War. 

Let us not put it off, but organize Pig Clubs everywhere. 
Give each boy and girl an opportunity to own and grow 
at least one pig. 

[Signed] Booker T. Washington, 
Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. 



This letter was not only printed by most of the white 
papers as well as all of the Negro papers, but it was widely 
endorsed editorially in the white as well as the black press. 
Many of the newspapers for whites urged that the white 
farmers also follow the suggestion. The granges and 
farmers' institutes of both races took up the appeal and 
urged it upon their members. There can be no doubt that 
through the publication of this one brief letter, sent out at 
just the right psychological moment, Booker Washington 
materially aided the Southern farmers of both races to 
tide over a serious crisis and materially increased the 
economic wealth of the entire South. As he well knew, the 
people were desperate and panicky and hence ready to 

174 



THE NEGRO FARMER 

follow almost any lead. In any ordinary state of the 
public mind such a letter could have produced nothing 
like such an influence. This well illustrated Booker 
Washington's accurate knowledge of and feeling for the 
psychology of the public which enabled him almost with- 
out exception to speak or remain silent at the right 
times. 

Booker Washington was not only interested in black 
farmers but white farmers. He always emphasized the 
responsibility of the farmer as the builder of the founda- 
tions of society. He was constantly inviting the white 
farmers of the surrounding country to visit the school and 
see what was being done on the school farms and by the 
Experiment Station. And the white farmers availed 
themselves freely of this opportunity and profited by it. 
The school's veterinarian is probably the only one in the 
county, and this division was established very largely for 
the purpose of bringing the school and the community — 
both white and black — into closer relation. In dealing 
with farmers, even more perhaps than with other classes of 
people, Washington would appeal to their pride and even 
to their vanity. He was fond of telling them that they 
were the salt of the earth. One of his favorite stories 
was about the farmer who keeps his best potatoes for him- 
self and his family and sends the speckled ones to town; 
keeps his tender young chickens and sends the old tough 
ones to town; keeps his rich milk and sends his skimmed 
milk to tovsTi. While there may never have been quite 
such a farmer the story had its element of truth, and 

175 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

helped to make the farmer appreciate his good fortune 
and his importance in the scheme of things. 

In 1910, when the last Federal Census was taken, 503 
Negro farm owners in Macon County, Booker Washing- 
ton's home county, owned 61,689 acres, or an average of 
more than one hundred and twenty-two and one-half 
acres of land per man. This is probably the largest 
amount of land owned by the Negroes of any county in 
the United States. Certainly this was true at that time. 
The better class of Negro farmers has greatly increased 
during the past thirty years until at present from 90 to 
95 per cent, of the 3,800 Negro farmers in the county 
operate their own farms either as cash tenants or owners. 
The increase in the number of Negroes owning or operating 
farms has been an important factor in securing a better 
quality and variety of food. They have diversified their 
crops and raised a larger amount of their own food supplies, 
particularly meat and vegetables, and they have produced 
more milk, butter, and eggs. It will be seen that Booker 
Washington's voice when he reiterated over and over 
again, "The man who owns the land will own much else 
besides," did not fall upon deaf ears. 

When Booker Washington came to Macon County and 
founded Tuskegee Institute, in 188 1, the soil was worn out, 
and cotton, the chief crop, was selling for an almost con- 
stantly lowering price. Although there were few counties 
with a lower yield of cotton per acre, one-quarter of a bale, 
over 42 per cent, of the tilled land of the county was 
devoted exclusively to this crop. Very little machinery 
176 



THE NEGRO FARMER 

was used in the farming, the antique scooter plow and 
hoe being the main rehance. The soil was rarely tilled 
more than three or four inches deep. There was, in fact, a 
superstition among whites as well as blacks that deep 
plowing was injurious to the soil. Two-horse teams were 
seldom used. Sub-soiling, fall plowing, fallowing, and 
rotation of crops were little known and less practised. 
The county was producing per capita per year only about 
five pounds of butter, four dozen eggs, and less than three 
chickens. 

The Negroes were with few exceptions shiftless and 
improvident plantation laborers and renters. Of the 
almost 13,000 Negroes in the county not more than fifty 
or sixty owned land. They lived almost exclusively in 
one-room cabins. Sometimes in addition to the immediate 
family there were relatives and friends living and sleeping 
in this one room. The common diet of these Negroes was 
fat pork, corn bread, and molasses. Many meals consisted 
of corn bread mixed with salt water. This, then, was the 
raw material with which Booker Washington had to work 
and from which has been developed, largely through his 
influence, one of the most prosperous agricultural counties 
in the South — a county which has been heralded in the 
press as feeding itself because of the great abundance and 
variety of its products. In 1910 the per capita production 
for the county was : 40 gallons of milk, 1 1 pounds of butter, 
7 dozen eggs, and 5 chickens. It must, of course, do more 
than this before it will actually feed itself. 

Mr. Washington was constantly drumming it into the 

177 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

consciousness of the Negro farmer that as long as he 
remained ignorant and improvident he was sure to be ex- 
ploited and imposed upon. He used to illustrate this by 
the story of the ignorant Negro who after paying a white 
man fifty cents a week for six months on a five-dollar loan 

cheerfully remarked: "Dat Mr. sho is one fine 

gen'lman, cause he never has ast me fo' one cent ob dat 
principal." It may be surmised that this type of money 
lender is not enthusiastic over Negro education. 

It is significant of the importance which Booker Wash- 
ington attached to agriculture that the first great Federal 
official whom he invited to visit the school was the Na- 
tional Secretary of Agriculture. In 1897 he got the Hon. 
James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture in President 
McKinley's Cabinet, to visit Tuskegee and attend the 
dedication of the school's first agricultural building. 

Secretary Wilson arrived at night accompanied by 
Dr. J. L. M. Curry, a Southerner, a leader of the educa- 
tional thought of the South, and the secretary of the 
John F. Slater Fund Board. The students lined up on 
either side of the main thoroughfare through the school 
grounds with back of them a great gathering of the farm- 
ers from the surrounding territory and many from a dis- 
tance. Each one of this great throng was given a pine 
torch and all these torches were simultaneously lighted 
as Secretary Wilson entered the school grounds. The Secre- 
tary and Doctor Curry, preceded by the Institute Band, 
rode between these two great masses of cheering people 
and flaming torches. 
178 



THE NEGRO FARMER 

The next day the dedication exercises were held on a 
specially constructed platform piled high with the finest 
specimens of every product known to that section of the 
South. On this platform, with the Secretary and Doctor 
Curry, were the State Commissioner of Agriculture and 
several other high State officials and many other promi- 
nent white citizens. This was the formal launching of 
the Agricultural Department of the school. George W. 
Carver, the full-blooded African and eminent agricultural 
scientist, of whom mention has already been made, had 
recently been placed in charge of this department. He 
had come from the Agricultural Department of Iowa 
State College, of which Secretary Wilson had been the 
head. 

The annual budget of this department alone is now 
nearly fifty thousand dollars a year, and more than a 
thousand acres of land are cultivated under the supervision 
of the agricultural staff. The modest building which 
Secretary Wilson helped to dedicate has long since been 
outgrown and the department is now housed in a large, 
impressive brick building known as the Millbank Agri- 
cultural Building. 

Under the provisions of the Smith-Lever Act, passed 
by Congress in 1914 for the purpose of aiding the States 
in Agricultural Extension Work, Booker Washington 
secured for Tuskegee a portion of the funds allotted to 
the State of Alabama for such work. With the aid of these 
funds Agricultural Extension Schools have been organized. 
These schools are conducted in cooperation with the 

179 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Agricultural Department of the Alabama Polytechnic 
Institute and the farm demonstration work of the United 
States Department of Agriculture. They are really a 
two days' Short Course in Agriculture carried out to the 
farmers on their own farms. These schools have the 
advantage over the Short Course given to the farmers on 
the Institute grounds in that they have the farmers' prob- 
lems right before them, to be diagnosed and remedies 
applied at once. Through such schools farm instruction 
is being carried to the Negroes of every Black Belt County 
of Alabama. 

T. M. Campbell of the Tuskegee Institute, the District 
Agent in charge of these Extension Schools for the Negro 
Farmers of Alabama, reports that among the subjects 
taught the men are home gardening, seed selection, repair 
of farm tools, the growing of legumes as soil builders and 
cover crops, best methods of fighting the boll-weevil, 
poultry raising, hog raising, corn raising, and pasture mak- 
ing. The women are instructed in sewing, cooking, wash- 
ing and ironing, serving meals, making beds, and methods 
for destroying household pests and for the preservation 
of health. At all the meetings the names and addresses 
of those present are taken for the purpose of following 
them up by correspondence from the district agent's 
office, so that the benefits of the instruction shall not be 
lost from one year to another. The slogan for these 
Alabama schools is: "Alabama Must Feed Herself." 
Practically all the black farmers have shown a pathetic 
eagerness to learn and the white farmers and the white 
1 80 



THE NEGRO FARMER 

demonstration agents everywhere have heartily cooper- 
ated. Churches, schoolhouses, and courthouses have been 
placed at the district agent's disposal for the Extension 
School session. One of the most hopeful features of the 
experiment has been the great Interest in this new and 
better farming aroused among the boys and girls — an 
interest which the ordinary rural school sadly fails even 
in attempting to arouse. All told throughout the State 
3,872 colored people attended these schools the first year. 
The sessions were usually opened by a prayer offered by 
one of the rural preachers. In one such prayer the 
preacher said among other things: "O Lord, have mercy 
on dis removable school; may It purmernate dis whole Ian' 
an' country!" At another meeting, after the workers 
had finished a session, some of the leading colored farmers 
were called on to speak. One of them opened his remarks 
with the words: "I ain't no speaker, but I jes wan' a tell 
you how much I done been steamilated by dis my only 
two days in school!" 

A report of one of these schools held recently at Monroe- 
ville, Ala., reads: "Only subjects with which the rural 
people are directly concerned are introduced and stressed 
by the Instructors, such as pasture making, necessary 
equipment for a one and two horse farm, care of farm 
tools, crop rotation, hog raising, care of the cow, seed 
selection, diversified farming, how to make homemade 
furniture, fighting the fly, and child welfare. 

"The home economics teacher attracted the attention 
of all the colored farmers and also the white visitors by 

181 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

constructing out of dry goods boxes an attractive and 
substantial dresser and washstand, completing the same 
before the audience, even to the staining, varnishing, 
hanging the mirrors and attaching the draperies." One 
paper, in estimating the value of these Movable Agri- 
cultural Schools said: "Given ten years of good practical 
agricultural instruction of the kind that was imparted 
to the Negro farmers, their wives and children, for the 
past three weeks in Wilcox, Perry, and Lowndes counties, 
there is no reason why every Negro farmer in the State 
should not only help 'Alabama feed herself,' but so in- 
crease the yield of its marketable products that the State 
will be able to export millions of dollars' worth of food and 
foodstuffs each year." 

These Extension Schools are advertised by posters just 
like a country circus, except that the language is less 
grandiloquent. On the following page is a typical an- 
nouncement presented in heavy black type on yellow paper. 

Thus did Booker Washington in the very year of his 
death, with the aid of the National Government, launch 
the last of his many means for helping the people whose 
welfare lay ever nearest his heart — the Negro farmers. 
These Extension Schools are literally "going out 'into the 
by-ways and hedges'" carrying to those who most need it 
Booker Washington's gospel of better farming. 

One of the great secrets of Mr. Washington's success was 
his unerring instinct for putting first things first. In 
nothing that he did was this trait better illustrated than 
in the unceasing emphasis which he placed upon the fun- 
182 



THE NEGRO FARMER 

Co-operative Extension Work in Agriculture and Home Economics 
STATE OF ALABAMA 

FARMERS ATTENTION! 

AN EXTENSION SCHOOL 

OF 

AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS 

FOR 

COLORED FARMERS, BOYS, GIRLS, AND WOMEN 

WILL BE HELD IN FERRY COUNTY AT 

MARION, FEBRUARY 8-9 

MORNING STAR COMMUNITY, FEBRUARY ii-iz 

COME AND BRING YOUR FAMILY! 

THE PROGRAM OF THE SCHOOL WILL EMBRACE THE FOLLOW- 
ING SUBJECTS AND MANY OTHERS. 
— FOR MEN AND BOYS — 
Diversified Farming for the South, "A Ray of Hope to the Man with the Hoe." 
How to Make the Cotton Farm Fertile — Every Farmer Must Feed Himself 
Care and Treatment of Live Stock — " To Thee, my Master, I offer my prayer; 

feed me, water and care for me, and when the day's work is done, provide me 

with shelter." — From the Horses' Prayer. 
Cotton Growing under Boll Weevil Conditions — Looks like Billie Boll Weevil 

is here to stay. 
Waste caused by weeds, stumps and skips. 
Corn — Seed testing. 

Dairying and Its Possibilities in Alabama. 
Sweet Potatoes — How to grow and save them. 

— FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS — 
"Home Made Home." — A Home should be more than a place in which to ea' 

and sleep. 
The Health of the Family — Much responsibility rests on the Mother. 
Child Welfare — Every 4th Negro baby dies before it is One Year Old. Fifty 

per cent of the diseases of Negro children under One Year can be prevented. 
The Care of the Girls and Boys on the Farm — Make them your partners in the 

business of Home Making . 
Demonstration in Cookery — Too few of our women and girls know how to cook. 

A FREE PICTURE SHOW WILL BE GIVEN ONE NIGHT AT 
EVERY MEETING PLACE 
This Extention School is being held under the auspices of the Extension Service 
of the United States Department of Agriculture and the Alabama Polytechnic 
Institute. The subjects will be discussed by experts from the Tuskegee Nor- 
mal and Industrial Institute. 

T. M. CAMPBELL, District Demonstration Agent, 

Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. 

183 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

damental importance of agriculture. He never forgot 
that over 80 per cent, of his people drew their living directly 
from the soil. He never ceased to impress upon the busi- 
ness and professional men of his race that their success 
was dependent upon the success of the farmers; and;upon 
the farmers that unless they succeeded the business and 
professional men could not succeed. In short, he made 
Tuskegee first and foremost an agricultural school be- 
cause the Negro race is first and foremost an agricultural 
race. 



184 



CHAPTER EIGHT 

BOOKER WASHINGTON AND THE NEGRO 
BUSINESS MAN 

IN 1900 Booker Washington founded the National Negro 
Business League. He was president of this league from its 
foundation until his death. 

During the winter of 1900, after reviewing the situation 
at length with his friend T. Thomas Fortune, the nestor of 
Negro journalism, and at that time the dominant influence 
in the New York Age, who was spending the winter at 
Tuskegee, with Mr. Scott and others of his friends, he came 
to the conclusion that the time had come to bring the 
business men and women of his race together in a great 
national organization, with local branches throughout the 
country. He decided that such an organization might be 
a powerful agency in creating the race consciousness and 
race pride for which he was ever striving. All the then- 
existing organizations, other than the sick and death bene- 
fit societies and the purely social organizations, had as their 
main purpose the assertion of the civil and political rights 
of the Negro. There was no organization calculated to 
focus the attention of the Negroes on what they were do- 
ing and could do for themselves in distinction from what 
was being done for them and to them. All the existing 

185 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

associations laid their chief emphasis upon the rights of 
the Negro rather than his duties. Mr. Washington held 
that without in any degree sacrificing their just demands 
for civil and political rights a more wholesome and construc- 
tive attitude could be developed by stressing the duties 
and the opportunities of the race. He believed it would 
be helpful to emphasize in an organized way what they 
had done and could do in the way of business achievement 
in spite of race prejudice rather than what they had not 
done and could not do because of racial discrimination. 
He believed they needed to have brought home to them 
not how many of them had been held down, but how many 
of them had come up and surmounted obstacles and diffi- 
culties. He believed that they should have it impressed 
upon them that the application of business methods would 
bring rewards to a black man just as to a white man. 

The first meeting of the National Negro Business 
League was held in Boston, August 23 and 24, 1900. 
After these sessions Booker Washington made the follow- 
ing statement of the purpose in calling the meeting and the 
results obtained : 

"As I have travelled through the country from time to 
time I have been constantly surprised to note the number 
of colored men and women, often in small towns and re- 
mote districts, who are engaged in various lines of business. 
In many cases the business was very humble, but never- 
theless it was sufficient to indicate the opportunities of the 
race in this direction. My observation in this regard led 
me to believe that the time had come for the bringing to- 
186 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

gether of the leading and most successful colored men and 
women throughout the country who are engaged in busi- 
ness. After consultation with men and women in various 
parts of the country it was determined to call a meeting in 
the city of Boston to organize the National Negro Business 
League. This meeting was held during the 23d and 24th 
of August, and it was generally believed that it was one of 
the most successful and helpful meetings that has ever 
been held among our people. The meeting was called 
with two objects in view: first, to bring the men and women 
engaged in business together, in order that they might get 
acquainted with each other and get information and in- 
spiration from each other; secondly, to form plans for an 
annual meeting and the organization of local business 
leagues that should extend throughout the country. Both 
of these objects, I think, have been admirably accom- 
plished. I think there has never been a time in the history 
of the race when all feel so much encouraged in relation 
to their business opportunities as now. The promoters of 
this organization appreciate very keenly that the race 
cannot depend upon mere material growth alone for its 
ultimate success, but they do feel that material prosperity 
will greatly hasten their recognition in other directions." 

The spirit and purpose of this first national convention 
of Negro business men may be gathered by this quotation 
from the speech of J. H. Lewis, a merchant tailor, and per- 
haps the most successful business man of the race at the 
time: "But what hope has the Negro to succeed in busi- 
ness ? " said Mr. Lewis. " If you can make a better article 

187 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

than anybody else, and sell it cheaper than anybody else, 
you can command the markets of the world. Produce 
something that somebody else wants, whether it be a shoe 
string or a savings bank, and the purchaser or patron will 
not trouble himself to ask who the seller is. This same 
great economic law runs through every line of industry, 
whether it be farming, manufacturing, mercantile or 
professional pursuits. Recognize this fundamental law 
of trade; add to it tact, good manners, a resolute will, a 
tireless capacity for hard work, and you will succeed in 
business. I have found in my own experience of thirty 
years in business that success and its conditions lie around 
us, regardless of race or color. I believe that it is possible 
for any man with the proper stuff in him to make a success 
in business wherever he may be. The best and only capi- 
tal necessary to begin with is simply honesty, industry, and 
common sense." 

The Boston Herald oi August 24, 1900, said of this gather- 
ing: "The national convention of colored business men 
began its sessions in this city yesterday in a businesslike 
and hopeful manner. This is not a political gathering. It 
is not a race gathering in the sense of one met to air senti- 
mental grievances that spring from race oppositions. 
. . . President Washington believes that the security 
and progress of the colored people in this land depend upon 
their development of a moral worth commanding respect 
and an industrial capacity that will make them both use- 
ful and independent. He apprehends that these qualities 
cannot be bestowed as a gift of benevolence, but must be 
188 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

acquired by individual energy and struggle. 'As I have 
noted,' he says, 'the condition of our people in nearly every 
part of our country, I have always been encouraged by the 
fact that almost w^ithout exception, whether in the North 
or in the South, wherever I have seen a black man who was 
succeeding in his business, who was a taxpayer, and who 
possessed intelligence and high character, that individual 
was treated with the highest respect by the members of the 
white race. In proportion as we can multiply those ex- 
amples. North and South, will our problem be solved.' 
That is the great lesson that the members of the colored 
race have to learn. It will aid in extending this knowl- 
edge for those colored business men who have attained a 
measurable degree of success in life to meet for mutual 
encouragement and helpfulness." 

Just fifteen years later, in August, 1915, Booker Wash- 
ington presided over the last session of the league held 
during his lifetime. This meeting also was held in Boston. 
There attended it seven hundred delegates from thirty 
different States. Mr. Washington in his annual address as 
president summed up what had been accomplished by the 
race during the fifteen-year interval and projected what 
they should strive for in the future. He also took occasion 
publicly to thank his foremost colleagues in developing the 
work of the league, particularly Mr. Scott, the secretary of 
the league. Undoubtedly he fully realized that it was his 
farewell meeting. He practically collapsed before the 
sessions were over. In less than three months he was dead. 

Among other things he said in this speech: "Since the 

189 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

league met in Boston fifteen years ago, great changes have 
taken place among our people in property-getting and 
in the promotion of industrial and business enterprises. 
These changes have taken place not solely because of the 
work of the league, but this and similar organizations have 
had much to do with bringing about this progress. Let 
me be more specific. , . . The value of the Negro's 
farm property alone is $1,142,000,000. From 1900 to 
1910, the Negro's farm property increased 128 per cent. 
In 1863 we had as a race 2,000 small business enterprises 
of one kind and another. At the present time, the Negro 
owns and operates about 43,000 concerns, with an annual 
turnover of about one billion dollars. Within fifty years 
we have made enough progress in business to warrant the 
operation of over fifty banks. With all I have said, we are 
still a poor race, as compared with many others; but I have 
given these figures to indicate the direction in which we are 
travelling." 

Later he said: "A landless race is like a ship without a 
rudder. Emphasizing again our opportunities, especially 
as connected with the soil, we now have, for example, 122 
poultry raisers; the number should be increased to 1,500. 
We now have 200 dairymen; the number should be in- 
creased to 2,000. . . . We now own and operate 75 
bakeries; the number can be increased to 500. From 32 
brickmakers the number can be increased to 3,000. From 
200 sawmills we can increase the number to 1,000." 

And so he continued giving the present achievement and 
future goal for many more industries. After giving these 
190 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

estimates he said: "With our race, as it has been and al- 
ways will be with all races, without economic and business 
foundation, it is hardly possible to have educational and 
religious growth or political freedom. 

"We can learn some mighty serious lessons just now 
from conditions in Liberia and Hayti. For years, both in 
Liberia and Hayti, literary education and politics have 
been emphasized, but while doing this the people have 
failed to apply themselves to the development of the soil, 
mines, and forests. The result is that, from an economic 
point of view, those two republics have become dependent 
upon other nations and races. In both republics the con- 
trol of finances is in the hands of other nations, this being 
true notwithstanding the fact that the two countries have 
natural resources greater than other countries similar in 
size. . . . Mere abstract, unused education means 
little for a race or individual. An ounce of application is 
worth a ton of abstraction. We must not be afraid to pay 
the price of success in business — the price of sleepless 
nights, the price of toil when others rest, the price of plan- 
ning to-day for to-morrow, this year for next year. If 
some one else endures the hardships, does the thinking, and 
pays the salaries, some one else will reap the harvest and 
enjoy the reward." 

Just before his closing words he said: "No matter how 
poor you are, how black you are, or how obscure your 
present work and position, I want each one to remember 
that there is a chance for him, and the more difficulties 
he has to overcome the greater will be his success." 

191 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Perhaps the most significant speech at this conference, 
next to that of Booker T. Washington, was that of William 
Henry Lewis who is probably the foremost lawyer of the 
Negro race in America. Mr. Lewis is a graduate of Har- 
vard where he distinguished himself on the football field 
as well as in the classroom. After graduation from the 
Harvard Law School he served with distinction in the 
Massachusetts Legislature, was appointed^Assistant United 
States District Attorney for the Boston district by Presi- 
dent Roosevelt, and became Assistant Attorney-General 
of the United States under President Taft. 

In opening his speech Mr. Lewis said: "I do not know 
why my fellow-citizens have chosen me for this honor, 
except to heap coals of fire upon my head. Fifteen years 
ago I was not with you. I was one of the critics, one of 
the scoffers, one of those who asked, 'What is it all about.'' 
'What does it amount to.^" You have Hved to confute 
my judgment, and shame my sneers, and I am now making 
generous acknowledgment of my error. I claim no merit 
in doing this, except that I can look backward as far as 
your great leader can look forward. Booker Washington 
has always been from fifteen to twenty years ahead of any 
other leader of his race. . . . While most of us were 
agonizing over the Negro's relation to the State and his 
political fortunes, Booker Washington saw that there was 
a great economic empire that needed to be conquered. 
He saw an emancipated race chained to the soil by the 
Mortgage Crop System, and other devices, and he said, 
'You must own your own land, you must own your own 
192 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

farms' — and forthwith there was a second emancipation. 
He saw the industrial trades and skilled labor pass from 
our race into other hands. He said, 'The hands as well 
as the heads must be educated,' and forthwith the educa- 
tional system of America was revolutionized. He saw 
the money earned by the hard toil of black men passing 
into other men's pockets. He said, 'The only way to 
save this money is to go into business — sell as well as 
buy.' He saw that if the colored race was to become 
economically self-sufficient, it must engage in every form 
of human activity. Himself a successful business man as 
shown by Tuskegee's millions, he has led his race to 
economic freedom." 

Later Mr. Lewis said: "Just as in Boston three-quarters 
of a century ago began the movement for Emancipation 
from Slavery, so fifteen years ago appropriately began 
the movement for our economical independence. . . . 
In 1900 there was one league with 50 members, and a few 
businesses represented. To-day I am told there are 600 
leagues, nearly 40,000 members, who represent every 
branch and variety of business, trade and finance. When 
one realizes that business rules the world, the possibility 
of such an organization seems almost unlimited in its 
power to help the race along other lines of progress." 

Such a tribute from one of the most rarely and gen- 
uinely talented members of "The Talented Tenth" was 
indeed a triumph for Booker T. Washington and his 
policies. In fact, it may fairly be said that this event 
marked the end of the honest opposition from this element 

193 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

of the Negro race — the end of the honest opposition of a 
group or section of the race in distinction from the of 
course inevitable opposition of individuals here and there. 

One of the features of this 191 5 meeting was a summary 
of the economic progress of the race since the organization 
of the league fifteen years before. This summary brought 
out the following facts : 

In 1900, when the National Negro Business League 
was organized, there were about 20,000 Negro business 
enterprises; now there are 45,000. 

In 1900 there were two Negro banks; now there are 

SI- 

In 1900 Negroes were running 250 drug stores; now they 
have 695. 

In 1900 there were 450 undertaking businesses operated 
by Negroes; now there are about 1,000. 

In 1900 there were 149 Negro merchants engaged in 
wholesale businesses; now there are 240. 

In 1900 there were 10,000 Negro retail merchants; now 
there are 25,000. 

In the fifteen years since the National Negro Business 
League was organized, farm property owned by Negroes 
has made a remarkable increase. From 1900 to 1910, the 
value of domestic animals owned by Negro farmers in- 
creased from $85,216,337 to $177,273,785, or 107 per cent.; 
poultry from $3,788,792 to $5,113,756, or 36 per cent.; 
implements and machinery from$i8,586,225to$36,86i,4i8, 
or 98 per cent.; land and buildings from $69,636,420 to 
$273,501,665, or 293 per cent. In ten years the total 
194 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

value of farm property owned by Negroes increased from 
$177,404,688 to $492,892,218, or 177 per cent. 

It is significant of the standing and catholicity of this 
convention that the Governor of Massachusetts, Hon. 
David F. Walsh, and Dr. John E. White, a leading white 
Southern clergyman, both spoke at the opening meeting 
at Symphony Hall. 

The National League is made up of more than 600 local 
leagues which influence in a direct and practical way al- 
most every community in the United States with any con- 
siderable number of Negro inhabitants. These local 
leagues are all chartered, guided, and supervised by the 
national organization and with them all the Secretary, Mr, 
Scott, keeps in touch. From time to time he issues 
pamphlets setting forth methods of organization, activities 
that can be undertaken, and subjects that may be discussed 
under the head of "Some things that it is possible for a 
local league to do to be of service to the town or city in 
which it is located " are the following: 

"(i) To keep a Hst of the young men and women who 
are intelligent, trained, and qualified to fill responsible 
places as clerks, accountants, salesmen, janitors, porters, 
etc.; in this way a league can do much in getting suitable 
occupations for as many as are competent, especially so in 
Northern States. 

"(2) In protecting the community against fraudulent 
schemes, as false stock companies, that are gotten up 
solely for the purpose of defrauding colored people. 

"(3) In fostering an interest in civic affairs, such as 

19s 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

sanitation, clean yards, cultivating pride in making at- 
tractive in appearance the home districts of our people, 
and in other ways showing an interest in everything that 
may make up a better community life." 

In the same pamphlet under the head of "Suggested 
Subjects for Discussion" comes the following list: 

1. How to unify the colored people in the business in- 
terests of the community. 

2. What the professional men, ministers, teachers, 
doctors, lawyers, etc., can do to assist the business men 
and women. 

3. What the business men can do to assist the profes- 
sional men. 

4. Patronizing Negro business enterprises. 

5. What new business can be established in the com- 
munity. 

6. How can the business enterprises already established 
be improved? 

7. How to secure additional country trade. 

8. If a bank does not exist, can one be established and 
supported ? 

9. If a millinery establishment does not exist, can one 
be established and supported, etc.? 

10. If a shoe store or gents' furnishing store does not 
exist, can one be established and supported ? 

11. If a drug-store does not exist, can one be estab- 
lished and supported? 

In another such pamphlet monthly meetings between 
the grocers and the clubwomen are suggested. Such meet- 
196 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

ings would have as their object the fixing of uniform and 
mutually satisfactory prices and service. It is also recom- 
mended that Negro insurance agents constitute them- 
selves unofficial health inspectors for their sections of the 
town. In this capacity they would report to the public 
health committee of the local league all instances of 
badly ventilated homes or schools, mosquito-breeding 
spots, accumulations of rubbish and filth, or any other 
conditions menacing the health of the colored citizens. 
The suggestion is made that where possible reading-rooms 
and bureaus of information be opened in connection with 
the offices of Negro newspapers and that such rooms 
place the colored papers from all sections of the country 
at the disposal of the patrons after the editor has finished 
with them. That several small shopkeepers club together 
and employ one expert bookkeeper is another idea offered. 
It is also proposed that small retailers get together for the 
purpose of purchasing jointly such commodities as can be 
advantageously secured in this manner. It is finally 
urged that a committee be appointed each year to make a 
social survey of the Negro population. This study would 
show what progress had been made during the year in 
all lines of endeavor and at the same time furnish a direc- 
tory of all the business and social activities of the Negroes 
of the community. It is pointed out that the sale of 
advertising space in its pages would alone more than pay 
for such a directory. 

It will be noted that these business leagues, like all 
other organizations founded or moulded by Booker Wash- 

197 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

ington, do not stick to their lasts in any narrow sense. 
Mr. Washington never lost sight of the fact that the fun- 
damental concern of all human beings was living, and that 
farming, business, education, recreation, or what not, were 
only important in so far as they made the whole of life 
better worth living. The means employed never obscured 
his vision of the aim sought as is so frequently and un- 
happily the case with lesser men. 

Just as at the agricultural conferences, so at these 
business gatherings, Booker Washington used the methods 
employed by the revivalist at the experience meeting. 
By so doing he accomplished the double purpose of en- 
couraging the successful by the tribute of public recogni- 
tion and spurring on the less successful and the unsuc- 
cessful to go and do likewise. Also by means of men and 
women telling their fellows in open meeting how they 
achieved their success the race is, as it were, revealed to 
itself. It was, for instance, through a meeting of the 
National Negro Business League that it came to light 
that the man who raises the most potatoes in the United 
States, and who is commonly known as the Potato King 
of the West, is a Negro — J. G. Groves of Edwardsville, 
Kan. Groves' story at one of the annual meetings at- 
tracted so much attention that an account of his life 
later appeared in an illustrated special article in the 
American Magazine. It was also discovered through a 
league meeting that Scott Bond, another colored man, 
was probably the most successful farmer in the State of 
Arkansas. After he had told his story at the meeting 
198 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

of the National League held in New York in 1910 he was 
pursued by cameramen and interviewers for days and 
weeks and his story was spread all over the United States. 
At the Chicago meeting of 191 2 Watt Terry, a modest 
and even shrinking colored man of Brockton, Mass., 
unfolded a remarkable story of success in spite of the 
hardest and must untoward circumstances. So unbe- 
lievable seemed this man's story that the Executive Com- 
mittee took up with him personally the facts of his re- 
cital, and later the Secretary of the League, in response 
to a demand, had to vouch for his statements in open 
meeting. To clinch the matter still further Mr. Wash- 
ington wrote to the Secretary of the Young Men's Chris- 
tian Association in Brockton, who replied that Terry's 
story had, if anything, been understated rather than 
overstated. Booker Washington himself told Watt Terry's 
story in the pages of the Independent for March 27, 1913. 
Here it is: " . . . Mr. Terry is a modest-appearing 
young man about thirty years of age. When he landed 
at Brockton some twelve years ago he had, according to 
his own story, a capital of just twelve cents. He found 
work at first as a coachman. After a time he obtained 
what he thought was a better position as janitor in the 
Young Men's Christian Association Building. Some of 
the members of the association succeeded in getting him a 
position as a railway porter. 

"'Somehow or other,' said Terry, 'I did not care for 
that sort of work, and after a few months gave it up. I 
made up my mind that I would rather work at a trade, and 

199 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

tried to get work in one of the shoe factories in Brockton. 
As I did not know the trade and there was a good deal of 
competition for the places open to apprentices it looked 
rather hopeless at first. Finally, I got the foreman to 
say he would give me a chance, provided I was willing 
to work for two weeks without pay. I accepted that offer 
and made up my mind to make the most of those two 
weeks.' 

"At the end of the two weeks Terry had done so well 
that he was given a position in which he earned $J 3. week. 
By sticking close to his job and making the most of his 
opportunities he was gradually promoted until he earned 
first $io, then $15, ^18, and finally ^25 a week. 

'"I had some difficulties at first,' said Terry. 'The 
other men did not like me at first and showed it. How- 
ever, I stuck to the job, kept on smiling, and it was 
not long before I was on just as good terms with the men 
in the shop as I cared to be. As I did not have much 
opportunity to spend my money, I found it easier to save.' 

"When Terry reached the point where he was earning 
$25 a week his wife was earning ^9 as matron in the 
Brockton railway station, and they both saved their 
money. Meanwhile Terry had begun to buy and sell 
real estate in a small way. One day he sold a house and 
lot upon which he cleared as commission ^100. 

"'That seemed to settle the question of my future,' 
said Mr. Terry. 'I decided to go into the real estate 
business.' 

"He added that at the present time his gross income 
200 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

from his houses was between ^6,000 and ^7,000 per month. 
Altogether, including several store buildings and two 
apartment houses containing fifty-four suites of rooms, 
Mr. Terry owns 222 buildings in Brockton. One of 
these buildings is leased by the United States Govern- 
ment for the use of the post-office; another is rented for a 
public library and reading-room by the city. 

"I should not, perhaps, have dared to make this state- 
ment if I had not confirmed the truth of Mr. Terry's 
statement by independent inquiry. In a recent letter 
from Secretary White, of the Brockton Young Men's 
Christian Association, he says: 'Some weeks ago I wrote 
you relative to our mutual friend (Watt Terry's) busi- 
ness, but now I want to enclose a clipping from the tax 
list which you will see is positive evidence that the time 
the taxes were recorded he was carrying well on to ^300,000 
and I know that his purchase of ^120,000 occurred since 
that time. It is certainly a most wonderful development 
within a few years.' 

"I ought to add that during all the time that Mr. 
Terry has been in Brockton he has been connected with 
the Young Men's Christian Association, and not long ago 
he contributed ^1,000 toward the support of that insti- 
tution. 

"Many persons will, perhaps, feel that money which is 
acquired in this rapid way is likely to do the person who 
obtains it as much harm as it does good. I confess that 
it seems to me that the same amount of money acquired 
more slowly would mean more to the man who gained it. 

201 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

On the whole, however, the Negro race has not reached 
the point where it has been troubled by the number of 
its millionaires. And if getting slowly and laboriously 
is a good discipline, the Negro has almost a surplus of that 
kind of blessing. I ought to add, also, in justice to Mr. 
Terry, that from all I can learn, his rapid rise has neither 
injured his character nor destroyed his good sense. I 
suspect that the effort to keep all those houses rented and 
the effort to pay interest on his mortgages has had a 
tendency to make him humble." 

Although Watt Terry's success is, of course, phenomenal 
he is only one of the many notably successful Negro busi- 
ness men who have told their stories at meetings of 
the National Negro Business League. Neither is Mr. 
Terry the only Negro who has made a big success in real 
estate. At the meeting of the league already described, 
held in Boston in 191 5, Mr. Washington introduced Philip 
A. Payton, Jr., of New York City; E. C. Brown, of Phil- 
adelphia, Pa.; and Watt Terry, of Brockton, Mass.; as 
the three largest real estate operators of the Negro race. 
PhiHp A. Payton, Jr., was the pioneer in opening the 
Harlem district in New York City to settlement by 
Negroes, who had formerly been excluded from all decent 
portions of the city and obliged to live on San Juan Hill 
and in other sections of unsavory reputation. E. C. Brown 
made money in real estate in Newport News and Norfolk, 
Va., and headed movements for the establishment of 
Negro banks in both of these cities. Afterward he moved 
to Philadelphia, where he has opened a bank, and also 
202 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

conducts a real estate business on Broad Street — the 
only Negro, it is said, who conducts a large business enter- 
prise on this important thoroughfare. At the same meet- 
ing it was brought out that a Negro by the name of 
Phillip J. AUston was chemist for the Potter Chemical 
Company, having risen from bottle-washer to that re- 
sponsible post. The story of J. S. Trower, caterer, of 
Philadelphia, showed that he was frequently engaged for 
the most important functions in the city and had been 
regularly employed by the Cramps Company, shipbuilders, 
to take charge of the catering in connection with the 
ceremonies accompanying the launching of new ships for 
the Navy. Mrs. Bell Davis of Indianapolis, Ind., has 
become equally successful as a caterer. When the Na- 
tional Negro Business League met in Indianapolis it was 
she who served the annual banquet. Booker Washington 
took the greatest satisfaction in disclosing her achieve- 
ments to the Negro people who had previously known 
little or nothing about her. He thus introduced her 
at a meeting of the League, " Mrs. Bell Davis, a widow, 
the celebrated caterer of Indianapolis, Ind., who has 
served banquets and receptions in honor of Presidents 
and Vice-Presidents of the United States, who owns a 
stock of Haviland china, linen, and silverware valued at 
thousands of dollars, all unencumbered, furnishes another 
illustration of what heights can be attained in the com- 
mercial world by strenuous effort and making use of 
every little opportunity which presents itself. Mrs. 
Davis' humble beginnings, hardships encountered, and 

203 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

success achieved would make three chapters of a most 
interesting biograpliy." 

Among the men spoken of by Booker Washington at 
the Philadelphia meeting of the Business League was 
Heman E. Perry, the founder of the first and only old 
line legal reserve life insurance company operated by and 
for Negroes. In his efforts to raise the ^100,000 initial 
capital required by the law of his State — Georgia — Mr. 
Perry had tramped all over the United States at least 
three times. Finally, having tried every conceivable 
source without securing the required amount, he returned 
to all the subscribers of capital stock the money they 
had paid in plus 4 per cent, interest. This action so 
inspired the confidence of the subscribers that almost 
without exception they not only returned the money, but 
subscribed for additional stock with the result that the 
initial capital stock was oversubscribed. When examined 
by the State Insurance Department three years after it 
opened business this company was found to have a gross 
income of almost $77,000 and admitted assets of almost 
$160,000. Each subsequent examination by the State 
Department has showed a healthy growth, low mortality, 
good judgment in the selection of risks, prompt payment of 
claims, careful management, and a sound financial condition. 
By means of this company, known as the Standard Life 
Insurance Company, life insurance may be had by any 
Negro under the same conditions, with the same degree of 
security, and at the same rates as a white man. 

Among the other notably successful Negro business 
204 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

men who have told their stories at meetings of the league 
are the following: Victor H. Tulane, of Montgomery, 
Ala., whose story of small beginnings and present success 
stirred his fellows at a meeting of the league. Mr. Tulane 
entered the grocery business twenty-five years ago, a 
business that any ambitious man of his race may enter, 
requiring small capital but unlimited patience and close 
attention to business. He now owns considerable prop- 
erty, and is a factor in all matters that concern his race 
in Montgomery, being regarded by white and colored 
citizens alike as Montgomery's first colored citizen. Mr. 
Tulane says : "Twenty-five years ago I was a renter; to-day 
I am landlord of not a few tenants. Twenty-five years 
ago my stock represented less than a hundred dollars; at 
the present time it values several thousands. Twenty- 
five years ago I had but one helper — a small boy; to-day 
I employ on an average of seven assistants the year round, 
excluding my wife and self. Twenty-five years ago I 
bought lard in five-pound quantities; to-day I purchase 
by the barrel. Twenty-five years ago I bought salt in 
ten-cent quantities; at present I buy it in ton lots. 
Twenty-three years ago I was unable to secure credit to 
the amount of three dollars, but since that period the very 
house that then refused me has credited me at one time 
with several hundred times this amount, and to-day it is 
not, how much do you owe ? — but, how much do you want ? 
Twenty years ago my business barely required the service 
of one horse and wagon; at present it demands the use of 
several. Twenty years ago I did an annual business of 

205 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

something less than a thousand dollars; during several 
years since that time the value of my business has ex- 
ceeded ^40,000 per year." It is Mr. Tulane's boast that 
he has not been denied credit during his business career 
except the onetime mentioned above, and that he has never 
been threatened or sued in connection with the collection 
of a debt. 

Another man's story that came out at the meeting of 
the National Negro Business League is the story of Charles 
H. Anderson, a wholesale and retail fish and oyster dealer. 
He conducts a fish, oyster, and game business in Jackson- 
ville, Fla., which supplies the largest hotels and many 
of Jacksonville's richest white families. He is also inter- 
ested in a fish and oyster packing business on the Florida 
coast, and is the cashier of the colored bank at Jackson- 
ville. A speaker at the league meeting held in the John 
Wanamaker store, Philadelphia, in August, 1913, referred 
to Mr. Anderson as follows: "The first time I saw this 
gentleman was fourteen years ago, when he was standing 
up behind a white sheet that had a round hole cut in it, 
bravely negotiating his head and face as a target; he was 
working for a man who was running one of those games 
known as: 'Every-time-you-hit-the-nigger's-head-you-get- 
a-fine-cigar!' (Uproarious laughter.) There I found him 
fourteen years ago, posing as a target, and for the magnifi- 
cent sum of five cents anybody could have secured the 
privilege of throwing three balls at his face. (Prolonged 
laughter and applause as Mr. Anderson stepped forward 
and was introduced to Hon. John Wanamaker, who 
206 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

warmly shook his hand.) To-day this young man is one 
of the most competent and one of the most prosperous 
business men of our race, regardless of section, North, 
South, East, or West. (Hearty applause.) Recently he 
was offered $18,000 for one piece of property which he 
owns in Jacksonville, Fla., and if he would sell out to 
me to-day all of his real estate and other holdings and 
equities, I would be willing to give him my check for 
$7S,ooo." 

Others are: Edward C. Berry of Athens, Ohio, who owns 
and operates a family hotel in which he does a business of 
$25,000 to $35,000 a year; J. Walter Hodge of Indian- 
apolis, Ind., who, inspired by the recitals at the Business 
League meetings, gave up his job as a Pullman car porter, 
after he had saved some money, and is now the owner of a 
large real estate business; Thomas H. Hayes who, starting 
as a day laborer for the Southern Railway, now controls 
probably the largest undertaking establishment in Mem- 
phis, Tenn. 

Perhaps the most remarkable story of business success 
ever told before a meeting of the league was that of J. 
H. Blodgett of Jacksonville, Fla. Mr. Blodgett told his 
story at the sessions of the league held in Philadelphia 
in 1913 at the Academy of Music. By request he in part 
repeated it at the meeting held in the Wanamaker Store 
the following day. Mr. Blodgett is an ex-slave. He has 
had no education whatever except what he has picked up 
in his long and successful struggle with life's sternest reali- 
ties. We will give his story in his own language. Bear 

207 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

in mind that this is the language, as taken down verbatim 
by a stenographer at the time, of a totally unschooled 
ex-slave. He said: "Now I want to say I went to Jack- 
sonville nineteen years ago with the magnificent sum of a 
dollar and ten cents in my pocket. (Laughter.) I also 
had an extra suit of underclothing in a paper bag; that 
was all the baggage I had as a boarder. (Laughter.) I 
was also arrested as a tramp for having on a straw hat in 
the winter time. (Hearty laughter.) And I say all this 
especially to you young men who are present here to-night, 
for so many of our young men seem to think that they 
can't start or succeed in business unless somebody shoves 
them off the bank into the water of opportunity and makes 
them swim for themselves; I simply want to say this to 
you young men, I started with ^i.io and one extra suit 
of underclothing in a paper bag — (laughter) — and to-day 
I pay more taxes than any Negro in Florida. (Prolonged 
applause.) I have had all sorts of struggles and difficulties 
to contend with, but you can't get away from it — if 
you get anything in this United States of America now, 
you have got to work for it. (Hearty applause.) The 
white people all over this country have 'weaned the 
Negro.* (Laughter and applause.) Dr. Washington has 
been going all over this country boasting about what you 
could do and what our race has done, and the white man 
is just quietly and gently and in every way telling us: 
'Go thou and do what Dr. Washington said you could 
do.' (Prolonged laughter and applause.) 

"When I began, I commenced working for a railroad 
208 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

company; I had a splendid job — washing cars for a dollar 
and five cents a day; I got $8.40 from the railroad every 
eight days. After working for a month and a half I 
saved enough money to send back and bring my wife 
from Charleston, South Carolina, to Jacksonville. Both 
of us went to work; we opened a little boarding-house; 
she ran that, and when my ^1.05 a day enabled me to save 
as much as one hundred dollars, I quit that job and began 
to hustle for myself. I told the white man I was working 
under: 'You don't know that a Negro with ^100 in cash 
is a rare thing among my people. I'm going to strike out 
and see what I can do by myself.' I made up my mind 
that if all of the big Negroes that I had heard of, read 
about, and talked with, if they could get honor and recog- 
nition by having brains, money, and ability, there was 
nothing the matter with me and my poor little wife to 
prevent us from getting up, too; so I went to work and de- 
termined to work day and night, if need be, to get some 
money, and other things necessary to succeed in life. I 
wanted money because I had seen and suffered so many 
humiliations put on the man who does not have money. 
(Applause.) 

"The first time I saw this distinguished gentleman 
(pointing to Dr. Booker T. Washington) I was laying 
brick in Jacksonville, Fla., at $1.25 a day, and he drove 
by in company with Mr. James W. Johnson, Mr. J. Rosa- 
mond Johnson, and another gentleman. I had always 
loved the big men of my race; even as a little boy I de- 
lighted to hear of what they had achieved, and when I 

209 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

heard that the great Booker T. Washington was in 
town, I quit my job for that day, went to the place where 
he spoke, walked up close, and was hoping somebody would 
do me the honor of introducing me. But I found the 
gentlemen who had him in charge were introducing him 
to nobody but the big Negroes, and the big Negroes were 
shaking hands with him and completely monopolizing 
Booker T. Washington. (Prolonged laughter.) I did not 
like to be rude and therefore did not push through the 
crowd and shake hands with him anyway, as I felt like 
doing. I was nothing but a poor brick-layer, nobody 
would introduce me, but I heard his grand speech, was 
richly benefited and inspired by all he said, and when I 
went away I made a solemn vow to myself. I said: 'If 
God be with me, I mean to so work and conduct myself 
so that some day I shall deserve to shake hands with 
Booker T. Washington.' (Hearty applause.) Now let 
me tell you the sequel of the story. Away down in Flor- 
ida, in my humble home in Jacksonville, there is a room 
named 'Booker T. Washington.' (Applause.) I have 
set apart and dedicated a portion of my home in honor of 
this distinguished gentleman and leader of our race. 
(Applause.) He is the first human being on earth I have 
ever permitted to sleep in it, and his good wife is the first 
woman and second person I have ever permitted to sleep 
in that room. (Prolonged laughter and applause.) We 
love him in the South, both Negro and white man! 
(Hearty applause.) Booker T. Washington's name is a 
monument of strength because he is teaching the Negro 

2IO 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

to use his hands and head in order to be useful in the com- 
munity and to achieve success. (Applause.) 

"I have been sick this summer and just got back from 
Saratoga^ — (prolonged applause) — of course all men who 
get rich go to Saratoga. (Laughter and applause.) While 
there I met some folks, and in the course of my remarks 
I had occasion to remind them that Dr. Booker T. Wash- 
ington, while an earnest advocate of industrial training, is 
not an enemy or opposed to higher education. There 
was a man from the British West Indies who began to 
speak on the subject of the Negro; he began to orate around, 
began to tell how the Negro must expect to rise in the 
world; oh! he made a magnificent speech going to show 
that there was nothing in the world like higher education 
for the Negro; he even said that the Negro race would 
never amount to anything and get its rights until every 
one of us had secured a college education. (Laughter.) 
Why, you ought to have been there and heard him orate; 
he took us all through Greek, Roman, ancient, and medi- 
eval history; across the Alps and all around the Egyptian 
pyramids — (hearty laughter) — and even cited the Druids 
of old to testify to the grandeur and necessity of higher 
education for the Negro. After he got through orating I 
said to him: 'Brother, I was down to a meeting of Negroes 
in the State of Florida — at the State Business League, 
and I saw sitting on one bench eleven (ii) Negro men 
whose combined wealth would amount to more than one 
million dollars, and not one of them ever saw the inside of 
a college.' (Prolonged applause, mingled with laughter.) 

211 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

And I said to him further than that: 'If any of you gen- 
tlemen who claim to be educated in the British West 
Indies, and all you gentlemen who hail from Beloit Col- 
lege (wherever it is) — if you can fool any one of those 
eleven Negroes out of one dime, I will give you ten dollars!' 
(Laughter and applause.) Yes, sir, without much edu- 
cation these men own their own homes and dozens of 
homes in which other people live; they are self-sustaining 
and independent, and can write their names to checks 
away up in the thousands of dollars; they live in neat, 
comfortable, well-appointed homes and enjoy the respect 
and esteem of their neighbors— black as well as white. 
'Now, sir,' I tutned to him and asked him, 'will you kindly 
tell me what is your occupation in life and what you have 
been able to accomplish with all this higher education 
you have been talking about.?' I found out that he was a 
waiter in the United States Hotel. (Laughter.) I said 
to him further: 'My brother, I don't claim to be an edu- 
cated man, but live in a villa of my own; I own consider- 
able real estate, and my dear little wife rides around in 
our own ^5,500 Packard automobile, all paid for.' CPro- 
longed applause and laughter.) 

"I am somewhat of a carpenter and builder; I went 
to work, bought some ground while it was cheap and at a 
time when everything in Jacksonville was at low tide; 
there were plenty of sick Yankees whose investments 
had depreciated and I invested what money I had in 
some land. I would build a house, then sell it; buy more 
land, build another house and sell that; after a while I 
212 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

was able to build three houses and sell two, build two and 
sell one and so on — (applause) — until pretty soon I found 
myself in the real estate business, buying land and build- 
ing and selling houses. In this way I have gone on build- 
ing my own houses until now I have plenty to support 
myself and that dear little red-headed woman who has a 
seat somewhere in this beautiful audience. (Laughter 
and applause.) She doesn't have to keep a boarding- 
house any more; she is on the retired list. (Laughter and 
applause.) We have made enough to keep from doing 
that." 

At this point Dr. Washington asked, "How many 
houses do you own?" 

Mr. Blodgett replied: "I have been selling houses 
pretty rapidly during the last few years, but I have built 
— and right here I want to say that while my subject is 
' Building and Contracting' I have never built a house for 
anybody but myself. I build my own property. I have 
built since the fire we had in Jacksonville in 1902 two 
hundred and eight houses of my own. (Prolonged ap- 
plause.) I have sold a good many of them. When I 
realized that I was beginning to get old and not in such 
good physical condition as I used to be, I was afraid I 
might get afflicted with tuberculosis, or appendicitis, 
or some of these other high-sounding diseases the doctors 
now talk about — (laughter) — and so I thought it best to 
convert some of my estate into another form that could 
be more easily handled by my better half when I had gone 
to inhabit my mansion in the skies. (Laughter.) So I 

213 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

have begun to sell off some of my property and get out of 
debt. I now have one hundred and twenty-one houses, 
the rents from which amount to a little over twenty-five 
hundred dollars a month. (Prolonged applause.) I 
have invested my money in recent years in what I call 
'grip-sack' securities, so that if there should be any little 
unpleasantness among the races, I can go to my safe 
and grab that grip-sack. (Prolonged laughter and ap- 
plause.) You see if there should ever be any friction or 
trouble, I can grab my grip-sack, jump into a powerful 
machine, and come up here around Philadelphia, 'The 
City of Brotherly Love' or over here in Canada, and 
I can sit down at my leisure and read in the papers what 
they are doing down there. (Prolonged laughter.) 

"Dr. Washington has been in my home in Jackson- 
ville; I have now had the honor of not only shaking hands 
with him, but of having him as my special guest. I know 
I am going to make one break here now, I'm going to say 
something that my little modest wife may not like me to 
say, but I hope she will excuse just this one time — (laugh- 
ter) — for everybody knows that I ain't very bright any- 
how — not really responsible. (Prolonged laughter.) I 
want to say this, not in a boasting way — I live in the best 
home of any Negro in this country I have so far seen. 
(Hearty applause.) I live in a home — we call it 'Blodgett 
Villa'; we have flowers and lawns and vines and shrubbery, 
a nice greenhouse and all those things that go to make up 
for higher civilization. I surrounded myself with all 
these things to show that the Negro has the same taste, 
214 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

the same yearning for higher civiHzation that the white 
man has whenever he has the money to afford it. (Ap- 
plause.) You know they have been saying all these years 
that the Negro is coarse and vicious, that he is kin to the 
monkey — (laugliter) — -and that we do not appreciate those 
things that make for higher civilization such as flowers, 
hothouses, neatly kept houses and lawns, automobiles, 
and such things, so I went and got them. (Applause.) 
When you step inside of Mrs. Blodgett's home there you 
will find art and music and literature, and if you can find 
anything in there that does not tend toward the higher 
civilization, you have my promise and consent to throw it 
outdoors. (Laughter and applause.) . . . 

"I remember when I was a drayman on the streets of 
Jacksonville; I was a great big man, even heavier than 
I am now: I wore a pair of magnificent feet appropriate to 
my size, and when I drove along everybody whistled and 
called me 'Old Big One.' Since that time I have gradu- 
ated from a drayman to what the program calls me: a 
'Builder and Contractor,' and when they see me now 
riding through the streets of Jacksonville in my ^5,500 
Packard automobile, if one of those Negroes should call 
me 'Old Big One,' I would put him in jail. (Laughter 
and applause.) I am interested in business with white 
men, and I tell you when a Negro gets to the point where 
he makes cash deposits in a white man's bank — say $5,000 
this week, $2,000 next week, and so on, they will begin 
to discover you, honor and respect you. If you deposit 
$2,000 this week, the bank president will know about 

21S 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

it, and when it gets to the place that you have got in the 
bank $25,000, why this man even (pointing to an ebony 
black man in the audience) will have become a bright 
mulatto!" 

Perhaps the most unique and impressive session of the 
National Negro Business League was that held at the 
invitation of John Wanamaker in his great department 
store in Philadelphia in 1913. One of the most interest- 
ing talks at this meeting was that of Charles Banks of 
Mound Bayou, Miss. Mr. Banks has been referred 
to in an earlier chapter. He has often been called the 
J. Pierpont Morgan of his race. He said in part: "I 
live in the little town of Mound Bayou, Miss., that was 
founded by Isaiah T. Montgomery, an ex-slave of Jeffer- 
son Davis, the President of the Southern Confederacy. 
Mr. Montgomery, the ex-slave in question, is present at 
this meeting. We live in what is called the 'Black Belt 
of Mississippi' and our plantations embrace some of the 
richest and most fertile land that can be found in the 
entire 'Delta.' In some parts of the 'Delta' the Negro 
population outnumbers the white population in a ratio of 
five to one. In the town in which I live (Mound Bayou) 
we outnumber the white population in a ratio of five to 
nothing. (Laughter and applause.) 

"Instead of whining and lamenting our lot, and be- 
moaning the racial prejudice which exists in our section of 
the country, we are taking advantage of some of the 
opposition and the tendency to segregate us and we are 
trying to show, through the leadership of this ex-slave of 
216 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

Jefferson Davis, that it is possible for us to build up a 
Negro community, a town owned and controlled by 
Negroes right there under his direct supervision. And as 
a result, on the Yazoo and Mound Bayou Branch of the 
Yazoo Central Railroad, we have one of the best-governed 
and most prosperous towns on the whole line. We have 
something like thirty to forty thousand acres of land in 
that rich and fertile country owned and controlled ex- 
clusively by Negro men and women. We have there 
the little town of Mound Bayou, which it is our privilege 
to represent, and so far as its management or government 
is concerned, we have control of everything. There we 
have a Negro Depot Agent, a Negro Express Agent, a 
Negro Postmaster, a Negro Mayor, a Board of Negro 
Aldermen and City Councilmen, and every other official 
of the city administration is a full-fledged Negro. In 
that town I am the banker, and I pass for a Negro." 
(Laughter and applause followed this sally, as the speaker 
is the blackest of full-blooded Africans.) 

In concluding his address of welcome on this occasion 
Mr. Wanamaker said: "I do hope that meetings like this 
will come often and be held in every large city in the North. 
In exhibiting to the world the successful business men 
and wpmen of your race, your league is doing exactly 
what every good merchant legitimately does, that is — 
you are showing your goods. (Laughter.) And you are 
delivering the goods. (Prolonged applause.) Your league 
is making an 'Annual Report' as it were; it is making 
a 'Yearly Inventory' of what your race has on hand, and 

217 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

though this large hall has been the scene of many delight- 
ful occasions (mainly connected with this business) your 
coming here to-day is the first meeting of its kind. 
(Applause.) I believe that this meeting ought to be put 
down as historical, and should serve as a set-off — in strik- 
ing contrast to the stoning of William Lloyd Garrison, 
in the streets of Philadelphia, scarcely more than fifty 
years ago. (Prolonged applause.) This meeting will 
simply help to balance your account. (Applause.) The 
world is moving on, and it is a glorious thing to-day to 
find that, instead of stepping backward — contrary to the 
predictions of some — you are making such splendid strides 
forward under the fine leadership of Dr. Booker T. Wash- 
ington — (applause) — as evidenced in this Business League 
Convention. 

"In closing I want not only to pay just tribute to what 
you have achieved in music, in education, and religious 
life, but I think it fitting, on this occasion, and I have 
planned to show you a fine paintjng from the brush of the 
greatest artist of your race — the son of Bishop Tanner. 
I have seen his handiwork in some of the art galleries of 
the first rank in Europe. For the most part his paintings 
are religious in conception, and the peculiar beauty of 
them is that they deal with the heart, even as they are fine 
expressions of art. (Applause.) Before you leave I have 
planned to show you several other pictures of real merit 
that members of your race have produced. (Applause.) 

"And oh — when I consider all these things, and when 
I gazed upon this vast and beautiful audience a few 
218 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

minutes ago, as you were singing so fervently our national 
anthem, 'America,' as I looked over the sea of earnest, 
intelligent faces, I wondered how on earth we could sing 
that song for a hundred years or more — I wondered how it 
was possible to keep a race like yours enslaved while, 
for years and years, the people of this nation sang that 
last line of that song, 'Let freedom ring!!!'" (Prolonged 
applause, tumultuous cheering, and the waving of countless 
handkerchiefs as Mr. Wanamaker resumed his seat.) 

Aside from having the successful colored men and 
women tell one another and their less-successful fellows 
how they had achieved their success at these sessions of 
the league, Booker Washington also arranged to have one 
or more prominent white men speak. His reason for 
this, aside from the obvious one of helping to foster 
friendly feeling between the races, was, it may safely be 
hazarded, to impress upon his people that white people 
succeed by the possession and the application of the same 
qualities which bring success to colored people. At the 
Chicago meeting of the league in 191 2 Julius Rosenwald 
spoke — ^Julius Rosenwald, the Jewish philanthropist who 
has done and is doing so much to help the Negro. It was 
he who offered $25,000 to any city in the United States 
which would raise $75,000 for a Young Men's Christian 
Association Building for colored men. It is he also who 
is helping Tuskegee in the building of rural schoolhouses 
as was explained in the third chapter. He is one of 
Tuskegee's trustees. 

The late Robert C. Ogden, the New York manager of the 

219 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Wanamaker business, addressed the convention of 1905 
in New York. He was a man whom Booker Washington 
delighted to hold up to his people as an example of what a 
man could accomplish through his own unaided efforts. 
He had begun his business career at a salary of ^5 a week, 
and from that as his starting-point he had risen to be the 
New York head of the greatest department store business 
in the country. He was for twenty-five years President 
of the Board of Trustees of Hampton, a member of the 
Tuskegee Board, and the originator and host of the annual 
educational pilgrimages which gave leading Northerners 
a first hand and intelligent insight into the dire need of 
education for the masses of the people both white and 
black throughout the South. Much of the educational 
activity in the South to-day may be traced to the early 
Ogden educational pilgrimages. 

Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the New York meeting in 
1910. He had just returned from Africa. He said later 
that nothing connected with his homecoming had touched 
him so deeply as the ovation given him by these, his fellow- 
citizens of African descent. Among other white men who 
have spoken before the league are Henry Clews,^ the 
banker; Dr. H. B. Frissell, the Principal of Hampton 
Institute, and Dr. J. H. Dillard, president of the Anna T. 
Jeanes Foundation of Negro Rural Schools. 

One of Mr. Washington's many methods for inspiring 
his people to strive for business efficiency and success was 
to excite their imaginations by holding up before them the 
achievements of such men as John Wanamaker, Robert 
220 



THE NEGRO BUSINESS MAN 

C. Ogden, William H. Baldwin, Jr., Henry H. Rogers, 
Julius Rosenwald, the Rockefellers, and Andrew Carnegie. 

Out of the National Negro Business League have de- 
veloped the following organizations which are affiliated 
with it: 

The National Negro Funeral Directors' Association, 

The National Negro Press Association, 

The National Negro Bar Association, 

The National Negro Retail Merchants' Association, 

The National Association of Negro Insurance Men. 

Booker Washington was able to speak with assurance 
and authority to the business men of his race because he 
practised what he preached. The business methods which 
he employed in conducting the business, in distinction 
from the educational affairs, of Tuskegee Institute, com- 
pare favorably with those of the best-managed industrial 
corporations. He may even have appeared to be over- 
insistent upon business accuracy, system, and efficiency, so 
anxious was he to belie the popular notion that Negroes 
must of necessity, because they are Negroes, be slipshod 
and unsystematic. In refutation of this familiar accusa- 
tion he built up an institution almost as large as Harvard 
University which runs like clockwork without a single 
white man or woman having any part in its actual ad- 
ministration. Tuskegee itself is the most notable example 
of its founder's method of argument. No person knowing 
the facts about Tuskegee can ever again honestly say that 
Negroes are always and necessarily slipshod and unsyste- 
matic in their business methods. 

221 



CHAPTER NINE 

BOOKER WASHINGTON AMONG. HIS 
STUDENTS 

IN SPITE of his absorption in guiding the destinies of 
his race Booker Washington never lost interest in in- 
dividuals however humble or in their individual affairs 
however small. This was strikingly shown in his rela- 
tions to his students. He never wearied in his efforts to 
help in the solution of the life problems of the hundreds 
of raw boys and girls who each year flocked to Tuskegee 
and to Booker Washington with little but hope and am- 
bition upon which to build their careers. With many of 
these newcomers he not infrequently had his initial talk 
before they knew who he was. This was made easy by his 
simple and unassuming manner, which was the exact op- 
posite to what these unsophisticated youths expected in a 
great man. One of the graduates of Tuskegee in the book, 
"Tuskegee and Its People," thus describes his first meeting 
with Booker Washington. His experience was almost iden- 
tical with that of many another entering student. He says : 
"My first glimpse of Mr. Washington was had in the de- 
pot at Montgomery, Ala., where a friend and I, on our 
way to Tuskegee, had changed cars for the Tuskegee train. 
Two gentlemen came into the waiting-room where we were 

222 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

seated, one a man of splendid appearance and address, the 
other a most ordinary appearing individual, we thought. 
The latter, addressing us, inquired our destination. Upon 
being told that we were going to Tuskegee, he remarked 
that he had heard that Tuskegee was a very hard place — 
a place where students were given too much to do, and 
where the food was very simple and coarse. He was 
afraid we would not stay there three months. We as- 
sured him that we were not afraid of hard work, and meant 
to finish the course of study at Tuskegee at all hazards. 
He then left us. Very soon after the gentleman who had 
so favorably impressed us, and whom we afterward found 
to be the treasurer of the Tuskegee Institute, Mr. Warren 
Logan, came back and told us our interlocutor was none 
other than the Principal of the school to which we were 
going." 

Booker Washington was always keenly interested to get 
at the reasons which had impelled the new students to 
come, and they would naturally state these reasons more 
freely to a friendly unknown person than they would to 
the Principal of the school. As previously mentioned, 
Booker Washington always kept his ear to the ground. 
These raw boys and girls brought him fresh and frank mes- 
sages as to how the people were thinking and feeling about 
Tuskegee and those things for which it stands. 

Some time after Mr. Washington's death the students of 
the Senior Class were asked to write brief themes de- 
scribing their first impressions of him. In one of these 
themes the boy writer says, "His general attitude did not 

223 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

bear out my idea of how a great man should appear. I ex- 
pected to see him with a diamond ring and riding in an 
automobile on a pleasure trip, which most great men do. 
He was quiet, not overdressed, nor yet self-conscious of 
the position he held and the influence he wielded among the 
people. He seemed to me a man of great thoughts, yet 
not realizing his greatness." Another boy writes: "One 
of my first questions after arriving at Tuskegee, September 
9, 191 2, and registering as a student was to ask, where is 
Mr. Washington? I was told that he hardly ever stayed 
here but was often in the North. Two weeks later he came, 
and my first opportunity to see him was one day on the 
street. I was so enthused over him that I went to my room 
and wrote a letter home trying to describe him. 

"The following Sunday night he lectured in the Chapel. 
His title was, 'Have a Place to Put Everything and Put 
Everything in That Place.' In his talk he said: 'There 
are many people who have no system about their work nor 
home. Often you visit persons' homes and every member 
of the family is looking for the broom. The same is true of 
a match when the time comes to light the lamp.' 

"That talk was the most impressive one that I ever 
heard before or since. From that talk I have reaped more 
benefit than any other. It was the talk that I took in and 
began practising. I first started in my room having a 
place to put everything and putting everything in that 
place. After getting my room systematized I then began 
putting this talk in practise at my work, etc. . . ." 

The next quotation is from the paper of a native African 
224 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

boy. He says: "My first impression, or, at least, the first 
time I heard the name of Booker T. Washington, was about 
the year 1902. I was then a young boy, just arrived in one 
of the Native Training Institutions existing in South 
Africa. These schools train young native boys primarily 
to become teachers in their communities. As a native 
African I had just acquired the elementary use of the 
English language, when the following incident took place: 
One, a native teacher from the upper part of the country, 
was announced and that he was to give a lecture to the 
'Boys' Saturday Evening Society.' 

"The meeting assembled, and I at once heard that the 
lecture was about a boy — Booker T. Washington — who 
obtained an education through his struggles. ... I 
did not hear or understand more. But it is strange to say 
thatthisnamewaspinnedin the bottom of my heart. . . . 

"It was during the coronation of King George V of 
England that I saw this name. I had now finished that 
school and was teaching. It was printed in a native 
paper that Booker T. Washington, an American Negro, 
made an excellent speech. I cannot, however, say the 
exact words of the editor, which were in greatest praise of 
that man, nor do I recall the circumstances under which 
Mr. Washington had spoken. 

"When I wanted to come to school in this country I 
made up my mind to find the school — as I found later he 
was principal of one — ^where this man was leader; and so I 
came to Tuskegee Institute. I found the editor had well 
described the man's character and disposition." 

225 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Still another boy writes: "I first saw Dr. Washington 
at the Appalachian Exposition held at Knoxville, Tenn., 
in 191 2. It was Negro Day and there were thousands of 
Negroes out to hear Dr. Washington speak. ... At 
times he would make the people laugh and then again he 
would have a few crying. When I saw the tears in the 
eyes of his listeners, I looked at Dr. Washington and 
thought of him with awe because he was so highly honored. 
I thought of him with admiration because he could speak so 
well, and I thought of him with pride because he was a 
Negro. . . . His speech made me feel as if there were 
really a few Negro men and women in the world who were 
making a mark, and that there was a chance for more." 

Booker Washington's interest in the lives of his students, 
as in all things else, showed his combination of breadth of 
view and attention to what less-thorough persons would 
have considered trivial details. When, for instance, in 
191 3 Tuskegee was visited by one of the very infrequent 
snowstorms which occur so far South, he himself went from 
building to building to see that they were properly heated 
and to many of the rooms, particularly of the poorer 
students, to make sure that they had sufficient bed- 
clothes. During the last three winters of his life he had a 
confidential agent make an early morning tour of all the 
dormitories to make sure that they were so heated that the 
students might dress in comfort on getting up in the 
morning. 

Also when the weather was unusually cold he would 
make sure that the boys who drove the teams that hauled 
226 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

wood and other supplies were provided with gloves and 
warm clothing. One cold night he sent for Mr. Palmer, 
the Registrar of the school, and said to him: "I wish you 
would seek out the poor worthy students and see that it is 
made possible for them to secure proper shoes and warm 
clothing. Some of the most deserving of them will often 
actually suffer before they will ask for assistance. We'll 
look out for the expense some way." He was, in fact, as 
insistent that the students should have comforts as he was 
that they should not have luxuries. 

His attention to details and the comfort of the students 
was well illustrated in the close watch he kept over the 
dining-rooms and kitchens which he inspected every day he 
was on the grounds. Tomkins dining-hall is the largest 
building on the Institute grounds and is one of the largest 
dining-halls in America. It can seat over two thousand 
persons at one time. Adjoining this hall is a spacious 
dining-room for the teachers as well as extensive kitchens 
and a bakery. Underneath it is a great assembly hall 
which seats twenty-five hundred. Mr. Washington would 
usually appear before breakfast to assure himself at first 
hand that the stewards, matrons, and cooks were giving the 
students warm, nourishing, and appetizing food upon which 
to begin the day's work on the farm and in the shops and 
classrooms. Nothing made him more indignant than to 
find the coffee served lukewarm and the cereal watery or 
the eggs stale. For such derelictions the guilty party was [ 
promptly located and admonition or discharge followed 
speedily. Probably in nothing was his instinct for putting 

227 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

first things first better shown than in his insistence upon 
proper food, properly prepared and served for both stu- 
dents and teachers. 

He once said to his students, as previously quoted, "See 
to it that a certain ceremony, a certain importance, be at- 
tached to the partaking of food, etc. . . ." To carry 
out this idea each table in this great hall has a centre- 
piece of ferns, mosses, or flowers gathered from the woods 
by the student selected by his or her companions to deco- 
rate the table for that week. Boys and girls sit together 
at the tables. On Sundays and holidays first and second 
prizes are given for the tables most artistically decorated. 
Frequently these prizes take the form of some coveted 
delicacy in the way of food. Each day when at the In- 
stitute Mr. Washington would walk through the dining- 
hall during the noon meal and criticise these centrepieces, 
and things generally. He would point out that a certain 
decoration was too gaudy and profuse and had in it in- 
harmonious colors. He would then remove the unneces- 
sary parts and the discordant colors and point to the im- 
proved effect. He would next stop at a table with nothing 
in the way of decoration except a few scrawny flowers 
stuck carelessly into a vase. Picking up the meagre dis- 
play he would say, "The boy or girl who did this is guilty 
of something far worse than bad taste, and that is laziness!" 
At the next table he would have a word of praise for the 
simple and artistic effect which they had produced with a 
centrepiece of wood mosses and red berries. These com- 
ments would be interspersed with an occasional admonition 
228 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

to this boy or that girl for a slovenly manner of eating, or an 
inquiry of a newcomer as to where he had come from and 
whether he thought he was going to be happy in his new 
surroundings. An oft-repeated cause of merriment was his 
habit of stopping in the middle of the hall, calling for at- 
tention, and then asking the students if they were getting 
enough of various articles which he would name, such as 
sweet potatoes, corn, and blackberries. Cutting red tape 
was one of his special delights. Sometimes he would dis- 
cover, for instance, that certain vegetables were not being 
served because the steward had objected to the price 
charged by the Farm Department. He would immediately 
order these vegetables served and tell the protesting stew- 
ard that he could fight it out with the Farm Department 
while the students were enjoying the vegetables. From 
the dining-room he would finally disappear into the 
kitchens in his never-ceasing campaign for cleanliness. 
Over and over again would he repeat to students, teachers, 
and employees alike that the public would excuse them for 
what they lacked in the way of buildings, equipment, and 
even knowledge, but they would never be excused for shift- 
lessness, filth, litter, or disorder. 

One of the opportunities which he most highly prized and 
one of his most effective means of influencing the whole 
body of students was through his Sunday evening talks in 
the Chapel. Over two thousand students, teachers, 
teachers' families, and townspeople would crowd into the 
Chapel to hear these talks. They were stenographically 
reported and published in the school paper. In this way 

229 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

he influenced not only the undergraduates, but a large 
number of graduates and others who subscribed to the 
paper largely for the purpose of following these talks. We 
here quote from a previously unpublished (except in the 
school paper) collection of these talks, dehvered during the 
school term of 1913-14, under the title of "What Parents 
Would Like to Hear Concerning Students While at 
School." The first talk was called, "For Old and New 
Students." In it he said in part: "I suspect that each 
one of your parents would like to know that you are learn- 
ing to read your Bible; not only to read it because you 
have to, but to read it every day in the year because you 
have learned to love the Bible; because you have learned 
day by day to make its teachings a part of you. . . . 

i Each one of you, in beginning your school year, should 
have a Bible, and you should make that Bible a part of 
your school life, a part of your very nature, and always, no 
matter how busy the day may be, no matter how many mis- 
takes, no matter how many failures you make in other di- 
rections, do not fail to find a few minutes to study or read 
your Bible. 

I- "The greatest people in the world, those who are most 
learned; those who bear the burdens and responsibilities of 
the world, are persons who are not ashamed to let the 
world know not only that they believe in the Bible, but 
that they read it." 

And this was the advice of a man who never preached 
what he did not practise and who only a few years be- 
fore had been denounced by many of the preachers of 
230 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

his own race as a Godless man, building up a Godless 
school 1 

A little further on he said: "In many cases you have 
come from homes where there was no regular time for get- 
ting up in the morning, no regular time for eating your 
meals, and no regular time for going to bed. 

"Now the basis of civilization is system, order, regu- 
larity. A race or an individual which has no fixed habits, 
no fixed place of abode, no time for going to bed, for getting 
up in the morning, for going to work; no arrangement, 
order, or system in all the ordinary business of life, such a 
race and such an individual are lacking in self-control, 
lacking in some of the fundamentals of civilization. . . . 

"If you take advantage of all these opportunities, if 
your minds are so disposed that you can welcome and 
make the most of these advantages, these habits of order 
and system will soon be so fixed, so ingrained, so thor- 
oughly a part of you that you will no longer tolerate dis- 
order anywhere, that you will not be willing to endure 
the old slovenly habits which so many of you brought 
with you when you came here." 

And later, in speaking of the haphazard, slipshod, ir- 
regular meal, he said: "Instead of bringing the family 
together it has put them wider apart. A house in which 
the family table is a mere lunch-counter is not and cannot 
be a home." 

And just before concluding this talk he said: "Now what 
is true of this school is true of the world at large. This 
is a little world of itself. It is a small sample of civiliza- 

231 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

tion, an experiment station, so to speak, in which we are 
trying to prepare you to live in a manner a little more 
orderly, a little more efficient, and a little more civilized 
than you have lived heretofore. If you are not able to 
live and succeed here, you will not be able to live and 
succeed in the world outside. If we do not want you 
here, if we cannot get on with you here, it will mean that 
the world outside will not want you, will not be able to 
get on with you." 

Probably no educator ever kept more constantly before 
his own mind and before the minds of his students and 
teachers that the purpose of education is preparation for 
right living than did Booker Washington. Everything 
that did not make for this end he eliminated, regardless 
of customs and traditions, everything which did make 
for this end he included, equally regardless of customs 
and traditions, 
if In a talk called, "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother," 
the second of this series, he made this rather touching 
statement: "Many of your parents are poor. Not only 
that, but many of them are ignorant, at least, so far as 
books are concerned. Notwithstanding all this, in every 
case they have done something for you. It may have 
been, in many cases I know that it has been, a very little, 
but out of their poverty and out of their ignorance they 
have done something. They have made it possible, in 
the majority of cases, for you to come here, and no matter 
how poor they are, no matter how ignorant they are, their 
ambition is largely centred in you." 
232 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

This is one of the many statements which show that 
Booker Washington had no illusions as to the ignorance 
and poverty of the rank and file of his people, and yet with 
this full knowledge and realization he never became dis- 
couraged. 

In another of these talks, on "The Importance of Sim- 
plicity," he said: "In many cases young men in cities 
do not own anything in the world except what they are 
carrying around on their backs. They have a few collars 
and a few cuffs, some bright-colored socks and neckties, 
and that is all; nothing would be left of the man if you 
were to bury these things. A few collars and cuffs, neck- 
ties, and a few pieces of cheap jewelry — that is all there is 
of such men." 

Later in the same talk he said: "Short, simple, direct 
sentences indicate education, indicate culture, indicate 
common sense. Some people think the way for them to 
show their education is by using big words, elaborate sen- 
tences, and by discussing subjects which nobody on earth 
can understand. 

"Whenever you hear a man using words or talking on 
a subject that you can't understand, you can be very 
sure that the man does not understand himself what he is 
trying to talk about. If a man is talking about any sub- 
ject, literary or what not, of which he is really master, 
he will be so direct, so simple, so perfectly clear and in- 
telligible in the discussion of that subject that the most 
humble person can understand what he is saying." 

In a talk on "Being Polite," he said: "It is often dif- 

233 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

ficult, I might better say, it is always difficult, for persons 
to have genuine politeness in their hearts when they live 
in a country that is inhabited by different races. Here 
in the South, and throughout this country, for that 
matter, we come into contact with persons of another 
race, persons of another color. It takes some effort, some 
training, and often some determination to say, in deaiing 
with a person of another race, of another color, I will be 
polite; I will be kind; I will be considerate." 

In a talk on "Being Economical," he said: "You will 
help yourself and help this school if you will say to yourself 
constantly: 'This is my home; this property does not 
belong exclusively to the Trustees, but it is mine; I am a 
trustee, every student is a trustee of this institution. 
How can I make every dollar go as far as possible? How 
can I help cut down expenses here.?'" And later on, "I 
want you to get into the habit of saying: 'This institution 
belongs to me, belongs to my race; every dollar that is 
spent here is spent for my benefit and for the benefit of my 
race; every cent that is wasted here is my loss and the 
loss of all the generations that come after me.'" 

In a talk on "The Use of Time," he said: "You hear 
people speaking sometimes about 'killing time.' No 
civilized man should be allowed to kill time any more than 
he should be allowed to destroy any of the other natural 
resources. When you find a man engaged in 'killing time' 
you will find a man who is disobeying one of the most 
fundamental laws of civilization. A man who habit- 
ually devotes himself to 'killing time' is a dangerous 
234 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

citizen and the law against vagrancy is aimed against 
him. 

In a talk on "Being All Right, But," he said: "You 
frequently hear it said of certain persons in one connection 
or another that 'they are all right, except,' or 'they are 
all right, but.' You are thinking, perhaps, of employing 
some one for this or that important service and among 
others the question is asked: 'What kind of disposition 
has this one or that one?' Very often you receive an 

answer something like this: 'They are all right, but ' 

That 'but' carries with it a lot of things. There are too 
many people in the world who are 'all right, but.' We 
want to get rid of just as many of these 'buts' as we 
can." And in concluding the same talk he said: "Think 
big thoughts, think about big questions, read big books, 
and, most of all, get into contact with the big people of 
your acquaintance and get out from under the control 
of the little people of your acquaintance. If you will do 
this, gradually you will find yourself better fitted for Hfe; 
you will find yourself happier and better fitted to render 
service. . . ." 

In a talk on "The Power of Persistence," he said: "Al- 
ways keep your eye on the student who seems to be dull, 
who is slow in his studies, who has to repeat his class, but 
who keeps plodding along doggedly, determinedly, until he 
has finished the course of study. 

"Keep your eye on that student after he has gone out 
into the world. He has learned to endure, he has learned 
to stick to his job in season and out of season. . . ." 

235 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

In a talk on "Standing Still," he said: "People say of 
us that, as a race, we are not capable of going very far, 
not capable of making steady, persistent progress. We 
go a little way and there we stop, stand still, and stagnate. 
. . . Now one of the things which this school aims 
to do for you and through you is to change, as far as 
possible, the reputation of our people in so far as they are 
regarded as unprogressive, lacking in initiative and in 
ability to go forward unwaveringly." 

The concluding talk of this series, and perhaps the 
strongest of them all, was entitled, "Thou Shalt Not Steal." 
In it he said: "I believe if you could get down into the 
deep, dark corners of your own hearts, and if you could 
get deep down into the hearts of your parents, you could 
find there, in both cases, a misgiving, a sense of danger, 
never clearly expressed but always present, a fear that 
some time, somewhere, trouble was in store for you and 
for them. 

"This is so far true, in some cases of which I know, that 
if parents should some day learn that their children were 
in trouble they would not be surprised, because they have 
expected it, looked forward to it, and feared it; because 
they have known and suspected all along that you had 
never thoroughly learned to control yourself when deal- 
ing with other people's property. 

Later on he added: "This disposition to pilfer was, to 
a large extent, a part of the history of slavery. It was 
rare when colored people who belonged to a white family 
where they served as cooks, butlers, or in some other form 
236 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

of household service, did not feel that everything belong- 
ing to the white family belonged equally to them. Thus, 
when freedom came, it was difficult to get the colored 
cook to feel that she was a mere employee, that in the 
wages she received by the week or month she was being 
paid for her services for cooking. It was very hard to 
get her away from the customs and practises of slavery, 
especially when receiving very small wages. 

"In many cases boys and girls have seen or have known 
that their mothers kept up this practice of pilfering from 
persons for whom they cooked. They have seen it going 
on day after day and year after year in their own homes 
and have observed that employers seem to expect it, wink 
at it, at any rate, put up with it. While they know, as 
their parents know, that it is wrong, they have neverthe- 
less come to feel that it is one of the ways in which black 
folk and white folk get on together; one of the indirect 
ways, in other words, in which black people have learned 
to recompense themselves for disadvantages which they 
suffer in other directions." 

In conclusion he said: "Each one of you can do some- 
thing toward solving the race problem, for example, by 
making, each for himself, a reputation for honesty in the 
community in which you live. If in the part of the coun- 
try where you now live members of our race have a rep- 
utation for carelessness, looseness in regard to the owner- 
ship of property, you can help to solve the race problem, 
and make life here in the South more comfortable for 
every other member of the race if you will win for your- 

237 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

self a reputation for downright honesty and integrity in 
all your dealings with your neighbors, whether they be 
white or black." 

Mr. Washington once said, "In all my teaching I have 
watched carefully the influence of the toothbrush, and 
I am convinced that there are few single agencies of civili- 
zation that are more far-reaching." He made periodic 
tours of the students' rooms to find out what students if 
any were without toothbrushes. The possession and 
use of a toothbrush is one of the entrance requirements 
for Tuskegee. In this connection he used to tell with a 
chuckle the reply of the girl who in answer to his question 
as to whose toothbrush he found on the washstand said, 
"That is ours," referring to her roommate and herself. 

In his tours of inspection of the students' rooms he 
would also inquire how many nightgowns they owned. 
He insisted that every student should have at least two 
nightgowns. He was constantly impressing upon the 
students that decent, respectable people do not sleep in 
the garments in which they work during the day. In 
fact, he preached the gospel of the nightgown and the 
toothbrush as insistently as he did the gospel of work 
and simplicity. 

He constantly insisted that the welfare of the students 
should be at all times the dominant consideration in the 
conduct of the institution. When the teachers would 
sometimes complain that their welfare was not sufficiently 
considered he would remind them that the Institute was 
being conducted for the benefit of the students and that 
238 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

teachers were not required except for the benefit of the 
students. That the students should be happy was al- 
most a mania with him. He was constantly sending 
for officers and teachers to inquire as to whether the 
students seemed happy. 

To the delight of the students he would occasionally call 
a mass-meeting where he would call upon them one by 
one to get up and tell him of anything that was wrong, of 
anything that was keeping them from being as happy as 
he wanted them to be. It was understood that every- 
thing that a student said in such a meeting would be re- 
garded as a confidence and that nothing that he said 
would be used against him. The teachers sometimes pro- 
tested against the unbridled criticism which Mr. Wash- 
ington permitted in these meetings. He, however, con- 
tinued them without modification, and while many of 
the students' complaints were grossly exaggerated their 
statements nevertheless led to reforms in some important 
particulars. The meetings undoubtedly added greatly to 
the contentment and happiness of the student body. 

He was always trying to protect the poorer students 
against the danger of being embarrassed or humiliated 
by the more fortunate ones. In this connection he was 
constantly resisting the importunities of students and 
teachers who wanted to charge admission fees to this or 
that game or entertainment. When the occasion really 
demanded and justified an admission fee he would make 
secret arrangements with the management to have the 
poorer students admitted at his personal expense. 

239 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

His willingness to hear the students' grievances was a 
characteristic not always appreciated by the officers and 
teachers. He was a firm believer in the right of petition 
either for a group or an individual. No matter how pressed 
and driven he was with business no student or group of 
students, and no teacher or group of teachers, was too 
humble or obscure in the school's life to win a personal 
hearing. He would without hesitation reopen and pains- 
takingly review a case, already decided by the Executive 
Council, if he thought there was the slightest chance that 
an injustice had been done. He insisted upon giving the 
accused not only "a square deal," but the benefit of every 
doubt. On the other hand, when there was no reasonable 
doubt of guilt no one could be more stern and unrelenting 
than he in meting out justice. 

Mr. Washington always encouraged and helped every 
ambitious student who came to Tuskegee to develop his 
capacities to the utmost no matter whether they were 
large or small. Years ago a student, William Sidney 
Pittman, showed a particular aptitude for carpentry and 
draftsmanship. After working his way through Tuskegee 
he was very anxious to take a course in architecture. Mr. 
Washington arranged to have the Institute advance him 
the money for a three years' course at the Drexel Institute 
of Philadelphia, on the understanding that he would re- 
turn to Tuskegee as a teacher after his graduation and 
from his earnings pay back to the school all that had been 
advanced for his training at Drexel. Pittman's record 
at Drexel was wholly satisfactory. He returned to Tuske- 
240 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

gee and repaid his loan in accordance with the agreement. 
He has since won the competitive awai'd for the design of 
the Negro Building at the Jamestown Exposition, has 
built a large number of public and semi-public buildings 
throughout the South, including the Carnegie Library at 
Houston, Texas; a Pythian Temple at Dallas, Texas, 
where he lives, for the Negro members of the Knights of 
Pythias; the Collis P. Huntington Memorial Building at 
Tuskegee, and a number of Young Men's Christian Asso- 
ciation buildmgs for colored men. In 1907 he married 
Mr. Washington's only daughter, Portia Marshall Wash- 
ington, after her graduation from Bradford Academy, 
Massachusetts. He is now generally regarded as the 
foremost architect of his race. 

Somewhat later Mr. Washington succeeded in securing 
some scholarships which enabled promising Tuskegee 
graduates to take two years of post-graduate work in 
teaching methods at the Teachers' College of Columbia 
University. These scholarships were given by John 
Crosby Brown, V. Everett Macy, and John D. Rockefeller, 
Jr. In each case these students were required to return 
to Tuskegee as teachers for two years — the same time as 
their course at Columbia. Dean Russell of the Teachers' 
College has testified to the earnestness and high character 
of these Tuskegee graduates. 

As measured by the Tuskegee standard of success, which 
is service to others, perhaps the most successful of all 
Tuskegee's graduates is William H. Holtzclaw, the Prin- 
cipal of the Utica Normal and Industrial Institute of 

241 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Mississippi. There is no school that has better emulated 
the best there is in Tuskegee Institute, and there is no 
graduate of Tuskegee that has followed more faithfully 
and effectively in Booker Washington's footsteps. Holtz- 
claw has told his own story in an admirably written and 
most interesting book entitled, "The Black Man's Bur- 
den." Starting in 1903 with a capital of seventy-five 
cents, no land and no buildings in a little one-room, 
ramshackle log cabin, which he did not own and in which 
he and his wife lived as well as taught, Holtzclaw now has 
an annual enrollment of nearly five hundred students 
and a faculty of thirty teachers. The school through its 
varied forms of extension work influences yearly about 
thirty thousand people. It owns seventeen hundred acres 
of land and conducts twenty different industries aside 
from its academic work. The buildings and property 
are valued at one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. 
It has also its own electric light plant and water-works and 
an endowment of over thirty-two thousand dollars. In 
concluding his book Mr. Holtzclaw says: "I see more 
clearly than ever before the great task that is before me, 
and I propose to continue the struggle. It is an appalling 
task: a State with more than a million Negroes to be edu- 
cated, with half a million children of school age, 35 
per cent, of whom at the present time attend no school 
at all (only 36 per cent, in average attendance), a 
State whose dual school system makes it impossible 
to furnish more than a mere pittance for the education of 
each child — yet these children must be educated, must be 
242 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

unfettered, set free. That freedom for which Christian 
men and women, North and South, have worked and 
prayed so long must be realized in the lives of these young 
people. This, then, is my task, the war that I must wage; 
and I propose to stay on the firing-line and fight the good 
fight of faith." 

Another Tuskegee graduate in whom Mr. Washington 
was especially interested is Isaac Fisher. Fisher has 
been awarded the following prizes for his writings : 

"What We've Learned About the Rum Question," 
$500; "German and American Methods of Regulating 
Trusts," ^400 (in order to write this paper Mr. Fisher 
had to acquire a reading knowledge of German which he 
did alone and unaided in a few months' time; "Ten of the 
Best Reasons Why People Should Live in Missouri," 
$100; "A Plan to Give the South a System of Highways 
Suited to Its Needs, $100; "The Most Practicable Method 
of Beginning a Tariff Reduction," honorable mention. 
(Upon the request of the chief examiner of the United 
States Tariff Board this essay was sent to that body for 
its use.) Besides these, Mr. Fisher has taken several 
minor prizes for compositions on various subjects. 

It would be difficult to say, however, whether Booker 
Washington showed greater interest in the most brilliant 
or the most backward students. Certain it is that the 
most backward students won his special attention and 
encouragement. 

In the early days of the school there was a student by 
the name of Jailous Perdue whom Mr. Washington con- 

243 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

stantly encouraged and in whom he never lost faith in 
spite of his almost total failure to master his classroom 
work. Monroe N. Work, the statistician of the Institute 
and the editor of "The Negro Year Book," under the title 
"The Man Who Failed," has thus told Perdue's story: 

"Back in the days when the cooking for students at 
Tuskegee was done out of doors in pots and the principal 
entrance requirement was a 'desire to make something 
of himself a young man, Jailous Perdue, came to Tuske- 
gee to get an education. He was financially poor and 
intellectually dull. Examinations he could not pass. 
After struggling along for several years and accumulating 
a lot of examination failures, he decided to quit school, go 
out to work and help educate his sisters. Although he 
had failed in his literary subjects, he had nevertheless got 
an education in how to use his hands. He had learned 
to be a carpenter. Out in the world he went and began 
to work at his trade. As soon as he had earned a little 
money he placed three of his sisters in school at Tuskegee, 
and with the help of his brother Augustus, who had 
graduated some time before, supported two of them there 
for three years and one for four years. 

"In the meantime he had succeeded at his trade and 
gone into business for himself at Montgomery, Ala., as 
a contractor and builder. Here also he was successful 
and did thousands of dollars' worth of work. No job 
was too small nor too large for him to make a bid on. 
If he did not have a contract of his own he was not above 
working for some other contractor, and as a result he was 
244 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 

always busy. He has superintended the construction of 
some of the largest buildings in Montgomery. Among 
the buildings the erection of which he has superintended 
are the Exchange Hotel, at a cost of ^150,000; the First 
Baptist Church, at a cost of ^175,000; the First National 
Bank Building, at a cost of $350,000; and the Bell Build- 
ing, at a cost of $450,000. Perdue also assisted as fore- 
man or assistant foreman in erecting many of the important 
buildings at Tuskegee Institute, such as the Principal's 
house, the chapel, the library. Rockefeller Hall, the 
Academic Building, and the Millbank Agricultural Build- 
ing. 

"It is hardly necessary to say that Mr. Perdue has ac- 
cumulated property or that he owns a good home in Mont- 
gomery, for in these progressive days every black man in 
the South with any foresight is investing some part of his 
earnings in property. The most interesting and some- 
what remarkable thing about the career of Perdue and 
the greatest measure of his success is that twenty-three 
years after he had left Tuskegee a literary failure he was 
asked to come back and become a member of the faculty 
as an instructor in carpentry. Thus it was that the man 
who failed succeeded and returned to the scene of his 
failure a success. Perdue was constantly encouraged by 
Mr. Washington. He came under the type of those who 
were not brilliant, but who were always in his opinion 
worthy of help and encouragement." 

Washington A. Tate was even duller in books than 
Perdue. During his early years at Tuskegee he seemed 

24s 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

unable to grasp the most rudimentary information. His 
native dullness was made unpleasant and aggressive by a 
combative disposition. He vs^as constantly trying to prove 
to his exasperated teachers that he knew what he did not 
know. He was almost twenty-five years of age when he 
reached the Institute and entered the lowest primary 
grade. He had the greatest difficulty in passing any 
examinations and never succeeded in passing all that were 
required. Motions were constantly made and passed 
in faculty meetings to drop Tate, and were as constantly 
vetoed by Mr. Washington on the plea of giving him one 
more chance. Finally when Tate's time to graduate 
came the teachers in a body protested against giving him 
a diploma. Mr. Washington argued that a man who had 
made all the sacrifices Tate had made at his age to stay 
in school, a man who had worked early and late in fair 
weather and foul for the school, a man who had stuck to 
his task in the face of repeated failures and discourage- 
ments, had in him something better than the mere ability 
to pass examinations. Through Mr. Washington's inter- 
cession for him Tate got his diploma. The next day Mr. 
Washington had him employed to take charge of the 
school's piggery. Because of his hard, conscientious, 
and effective work in this capacity he was afterward 
recommended to the United States Department of Agri- 
culture at Washington as the proper man to take charge 
of the United States demonstration work in Macon 
County, Ala. Tate proved to be one of the Govern- 
ment's most successful demonstration agents. He is 
246 



AMONG HIS STUDENTS 
now farming successfully on his own account in an ad- 
joining county. 

Booker Washington, as previously pointed out, saw 
very much more clearly than most educators that educa- 
tion's only purpose and sole justification lies in prepara- 
tion for right living. A man who has passed all manner of 
examinations may not be prepared to live rightly and hence 
may not justly claim to be educated. A man who has 
failed to pass examinations may be prepared for right 
living and hence may justly be called an educated man. 
In other words, Booker Washington realized that education 
was primarily a matter of the development of character 
and only secondarily a matter of the acquisition of in- 
formation. 



247 



CHAPTER TEN 

RAISING HUNDREPS OF THOUSANDS A YEAR 

DURING recent years the expenses of Tuskegee Insti- 
tute have run to between ^250,000 and ^300,000 a year. 
Of this sum Booker Washington had to raise over $100,000 
annually aside from the large sums constantly demanded 
for new equipment such as the great central heating and 
power plant which was installed in 1915 at a cost of more 
than $245,000. 

At the ceremonies commemorating the twenty-fifth 
anniversary of the founding of Tuskegee Institute Presi- 
dent Charles W. Eliot of Harvard was one of the speakers. 
He said that one of his "first impressions of Tuskegee 
Institute," after just a glimpse, was "that the oldest and 
now largest American Institution of learning was more 
than 200 years arriving at the possession of much less 
land, fewer buildings, and a smaller quick capital than 
Tuskegee had come to possess in twenty-five years. 
"That's just a fact," he said, "Harvard University was 
not as rich after living two hundred years among the 
people of Massachusetts as Tuskegee is to-day, after 
having lived twenty-five years among the people of Ala- 
bama. And that's the first impression that I have re- 
ceived here. 
248 





Vi 


















o 
r. 




^ 


o 


<-!-. 




a. 


;= 




o 




d 









dS^^ 




S 2;:; S 5. 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

"This evening I have received another impression from 
your Principal. He said that the great need of Tuskegee, 
to-day, was a considerable sum of money, which could be 
used at the discretion of the Trustees, to fill gaps, to make 
improvements, and to enlarge and strengthen the different 
branches of the institution. Now I should not find it 
possible to state in more precise terms the present needs 
of Harvard University. The needs of these two institu- 
tions, situated, to be sure, in very dilFerent communities, 
and founded on very different dates, are precisely the 
same." This comparison is the more striking when we 
realize that President Eliot had at the time been at the 
head of Harvard University for thirty years, five years 
longer than Tuskegee had been in existence — President 
EHot of whom it was said, "When he goes to rich men they 
just throw up their hands and say, 'Don't shoot! How 
much do you want ?' " 

The magnitude of Booker Washington's financial task 
is indicated in his last annual report which he made to his 
Trustees in 191 5. He reported: 

"As of May 31st, we have received from all sources for 
current expenses ^268,825.17; for buildings and improve- 
ments, $28,919.47; for endowment, $28,102.09; from 
undesignated legacies, $53,858.10, making the total 
receipts for the purposes named for the year $379,704.83. 

"The gifts to the Endowment Fund for the year 
amounting to $28,102.09 "ow make the Fund stand at 
$1,970,214.17. 

"The budget recommended for your consideration for 

249 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

the new year calls for an expenditure for current expenses, 
repairs, renewals, and equipment of ^291,567.92. . . ." 

Later in the report he said: "Notwithstanding the de- 
pressed financial condition of a large part of the country, 
I feel it would be a great mistake for us in any degree to 
slacken our efforts to keep the school before the public 
or to get funds. I believe, as Dr. H. B. Frissell, Principal 
of the Hampton Institute, has often expressed it, that a 
large part of the mission of both Hampton and Tuskegee 
is to keep the cause of Negro education before the country, 
and that the benefits coming from such efforts of publicity 
do not confine themselves alone to Hampton and Tuskegee, 
but benefit all the schools in the South. With this end 
in view, I very much hope that the Trustees may see their 
way clear to encourage and help us as far as possible in 
holding a number of large public meetings during the 
coming year." These were brave words for a dying man. 
Five months later he died of sheer exhaustion shortly 
after addressing one of these "large public meetings." 
They also show the breadth of his conception of his task. 
You will note that he points out that such publicity as 
he urges, "benefits all the schools in the South" — not 
merely the schools for Negroes, but "all the schools." 
It never occurred to him to limit his sense of responsibility 
to his own school nor even to the schools for his own race. 
As previously mentioned he would sometimes devote an 
entire public address to an appeal for more and better 
schools for the poor whites of the South. 

Booker Washington's money-raising efforts consumed 
250 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

two-thirds of his time and perhaps even more of his 
strength and energy. He planned these money-raising 
campaigns just as carefully as a good general plans a 
military campaign. His last big money-raising campaign 
was conducted during June, 191 5. He and the Trustees 
of the Institute had been engaged for two or three years 
in the effort to raise the money to complete the cost of 
the central power and heating plant, but nearly $100,000 
of the $245,000 needed had not been raised. This burden 
bore heavily upon him. At last, with the approval of 
the Trustees, he decided to make one last herculean effort 
not only to raise this huge sum, but in addition, the money 
necessary to end the school year free of debt. For this 
purpose he formulated a plan of campaign by which five 
representatives of the school should cover the chief centres 
of population throughout the Northern and Middle West- 
ern States. This was the outhne of the territorial assign- 
ments of the collectors : 

Mr. Chislom: New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts 
— important centre — Boston. 

Mr. Wood : Rhode Island, New York east of Syracuse, 
and Binghamton, Connecticut — important centre— New 
York City. 

Mr. Thomas : New York, west of Syracuse and Bing- 
hamton, Pennsylvania — important centre — Philadelphia. 

Mr. Stevenson: Illinois, Wisconsin — important centre — 
Chicago. 

Mr. Powell: Michigan, Ohio — important centres — De- 
troit and Cleveland. 

251 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Each representative carried letters of introduction to 
leading men and women in the various centres through- 
out his territory. All these letters were personally signed 
by Mr. Washington. At the close of each day each 
collector telegraphed Mr. Washington at Tuskegee giving 
the amount of subscriptions and pledges he had secured 
that day. The next morning Mr. Washington wired each 
collector, stating the total amount of gifts and pledges 
secured by all five collectors. When the Trustees met 
in New York City, on the last Thursday of June, 1915, 
all but four or five thousand dollars of the over ^245,000 
had been raised. 

The Trustees themselves made up the difference by 
increasing by this amount their own subscriptions. Thus 
was successfully concluded the last great and difficult 
task which Booker Washington was to be permitted to 
perform. 

Of the hundreds of invitations to speak here, there, and 
everywhere which kept pouring in upon him certain ones 
he definitely accepted because of the money-raising oppor- 
tunities either direct or indirect which they offered; others 
of less promise he tentatively accepted to fall back upon 
in case the more desirable ones for any reason miscarried. 
Chautauqua engagements he considered only where they 
provided an opportunity for direct appeal for contri- 
butions for the work, or at least the chance to distribute 
printed matter. Chautauqua bureaus offering him as 
much as half the gate receipts above ^500 in addition to a 
guarantee of ^300 a night he turned down out of hand if 
252 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

they did not include one or both of these opportunities. 
No matter how much money they offered he would never 
accept such propositions unless they carried with them 
some opportunity to make a direct appeal for his work. 
It was sometimes suggested to him that he might receive 
these fees personally and then turn them over to the 
school. This he declined to do because he was unwilling 
to give even the appearance of capitalizing his reputation 
and oratorical gifts for his personal enrichment. Booker 
Washington was not one of those simple-hearted in- 
dividuals who are guided solely by what they deem in- 
herently right. He always strove to avoid the appear- 
ance of evil as well as the evil itself; and, with one unhappy 
exception, he always succeeded. He fully realized that 
his conduct was under constant scrutiny by enemies 
in both races eager to find some pretext to drag him down. 
So circumspect was he in his behavior that once only 
between the time he became a national character in 1895 
until his death twenty years later did his critics succeed 
in distorting any deed of his into the semblance of mis- 
conduct. The very nature of the charge in this one in- 
stance was sufficient refutation for any person acquainted 
in even the slightest degree with the man's life, work, 
or character. "* 

The press as well as the platform he constantly used 
to keep his work before the public for money-raising pur- 
poses. He had as good a "nose for a story" as the best of 
reporters, and every story that came his way was sure to 
find its way into print. No matter how driven with 

253 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

pressing matters nor how tired he never denied himself to 
"the newspaper boys." He believed that the more 
prominence, the more "limelight," he could secure the 
better, provided he used it for the promotion of his work. 
Thus he presented the apparent anomaly of being at the 
same time one of the most modest and unassuming of men 
and also one of the greatest advertisers of his day. 

As well as the general press of both races he constantly 
used the school press for money-raising purposes. The 
school paper which circulates among donors and pros- 
pective donors as well as among the students, teachers, 
and graduates carries in each issue brief statements of 
some immediate and pressing needs and the money re- 
quired to satisfy them. These needs are set forth in the 
following manner: 

"V/HAT $1,700 WILL do" 

" For a long while an important part of our extension 
work and publicity work has been greatly hindered and 
hampered because of the lack of a new and up-to-date 
printing press. 

"One thousand and seven hundred dollars will supply 
us with this long-felt need and greatly add to the value 
and influence of our work." 

"what $3,000 WILL do" 

"One of our very greatest and most practical needs is a 
well but simply equipped Canning Factory. Three 
thousand dollars would help us to properly equip the 
Canning Factory we already have at Tuskegee. The 
factory will help not only in preserving large quantities 

254 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

of vegetables, fruits, berries, etc., during the summer, 
but at the same time could be used as a means of teaching 
large numbers of our girls a useful industry, and, more 
than that, the products could be used to sustain the in- 
stitution during the winter months. 

"We could not only use everything that might be put 
up in cans here at the school in feeding the students and 
teachers, but there is an increasing demand among the 
merchants of the South, in the large cities, for anything 
we can produce on the school grounds. 

"We very much wish that some friend might see his 
way clear to give $3,000 with which to properly equip 
this factory." 

The need for a new laundry building with equipment, 
a foundry, and a veterinary hospital were similarly pre- 
sented. The funds to meet each of these needs were re- 
ceived as a result of these appeals, and a new list of needs 
is now being advertised. 

In concluding his annual report each year Mr. Wash- 
ington would summarize the immediate needs of the 
institution. In his last report he thus stated them: 

1. $50 a year for annual scholarships for tuition for 
one student, the student himself providing for his own 
board and other personal expenses in labor and cash. 

2. $1,200 for permanent scholarships. 

3. Money for operating expenses in any amounts, 
however small. 

4. $2,000 each for four teachers' cottages. 

5. $40,000 for a building for religious purposes. 

6. $16,000 to complete the Boys' Trades Building. 

7. $50,000 for a Boys' Dormitory. 

2SS 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

8. $50,000 for a Girls' Dormitory. 

9. An addition to our Endowment Fund of at least 
$3,000,000. 

A few months later, as he lay dying in a New York 
hospital, the following letter was received for him at 
Tuskegee. It was at once forwarded and passed him on 
his last journey to his home in the South. He never saw 
it. The donor, a Northern friend who withholds his name, 
has renewed the offer to the Trustees and they have ac- 
cepted it. 

November 8, 191 5. 
Dr. Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. 
Dear Mr. Washington: I have read your annual 
report and also your treasurer's report, and make you the 
following proposition: If you will raise enough money to 
pay all of your debts up to May i, 1916, and add two 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars to your endowment 
fund, I will give you the sum of two hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars for your building fund, to be used in 
building the items such as Nos. 4, 6, 7, 8, and the " Barnes, 
etc.," mentioned under the head of "Special Needs," and 
for objects of similar character. The above does not 
include item No. 5, "Building for religious purposes," 
as I am not inteissted in that sort of work. I shall be 
glad to know whether this proposition interests you. 

Yours very truly, 



The interest of this giver was first aroused by his reading 
"Up from Slavery" when it appeared in book form in 
1901. As soon as he had read the book he sent Dr. Wash- 

256 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

ington a check for $10,000 for his work which he has re- 
newed each year since until he made the above offer. 
"Up from Slavery" has brought more money to Tuskegee 
than all the other books, articles, speeches, and circulars 
written by Mr. Washington himself and the many others 
who have written or spoken about him and his work. 
Among its larger immediate results, aside from awaken- 
ing the interest of the anonymous giver already men- 
tioned, was its similar effect upon the late H. H. Rogers, 
Vice-President and active head at the time of the Standard 
Oil Company, and upon Andrew Carnegie. Mr. Rogers 
became so much interested that he not only gave large 
sums for the general needs of Tuskegee but eventually 
financed a large part of the rural school extension work, 
which has been described in earlier chapters, and which 
is now so important a part of the school's activities. 
Under Booker Washington's inspiration and guidance, 
too, Mr. Rogers later combined railroad building with 
race building. In building his Virginia railroad he under- 
took a wide-reaching work in agricultural education among 
the Negro farmers living within carting distance of his 
road. Booker Washington had demonstrated to his 
satisfaction that by increasing at the same time their 
wants and their ability to gratify their wants he would be 
building up business for his railroad. 

Shortly after the publication in 1901 of "Up from 
Slavery," Frank N. Doubleday, of Doubleday, Page & 
Co., the publishers of the book, in playing golf with Mr. 
Carnegie mentioned Booker Washington and told him 

257 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

something of his life. Mr. Carnegie was interested and 
wanted to know more. Mr. Doubled ay gave him a copy 
of "Up from Slavery." After reading the book he im- 
mediately got into communication with the author, told 
him of his interest in his life and work, and of his desire to 
help him. The result was that Mr. Carnegie agreed to 
pay for the construction and equipment of a library to 
be built by the students. Booker Washington, his 
Executive Council, and the school's architect, spent hours 
and hours of time in scrutinizing every detail to bring the 
cost down to the smallest possible figure consistent with 
an adequate result. The final cost to Mr. Carnegie 
was only ^15,000. Mr. Carnegie was amazed that so 
large, convenient, and dignified a building could be built 
at so small a cost. Over and over again both to 
Mr. Washington and to friends of the school he ex- 
pressed his surprise and pleasure at the result obtained 
by this relatively small expenditure. After that there 
was no doubt he would do more for the school. It was 
simply a question of how much more and what form it 
would take. In 1903 the following letter was received by 
the late William H. Baldwin, Jr., in his capacity as presi- 
dent of the Tuskegee Board of Trustees. 

Andrew Carnegie 
2 East gist Street, New York 

New York, April 17, 1913. 
My Dear Mr. Baldwin: I have instructed Mr. Franks, 
Secretary, to deliver to you as Trustee of Tuskegee 

258 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

$600,000 of 5 per cent. U. S. Steel Company bonds to com- 
plete the Endowment Fund as per circular. 

One condition only — the revenue of one hundred and 
fifty thousand of these bonds is to be subject to Booker 
Washington's order to be used by him first for his wants 
and those of his family during his life or the life of his 
widow — if any surplus is left he can use it for Tuskegee. I 
wish that great and good man to be free from pecuniary 
cares that he may devote himself wholly to his great Mis- 
sion. 

To me he seems one of the foremost of living men be- 
cause his work is unique. The Modern Moses, who leads 
his race and lifts it through Education to even better and 
higher things than a land overflowing with milk and honey 
— History is to know two Washingtons, one white, the 
other black, both Fathers of their people. I am satisfied 
that the serious race question of the South is to be solved 
wisely only by following Booker Washington's policy 
which he seems to have been specially born — a slave among 
slaves— to establish, and even in his own day, greatly to 
advance. 

So glad to be able to assist this good work in which you 
and others are engaged. 

Yours truly, 

(Signed) Andrew Carnegie. 
To Mr. Wm. H. Baldwin, Jr., New York City, N. Y. 



This great gift delighted Booker Washington not only 
for what it meant directly to his work, but because it so 
strikingly illustrated a truth which he had long and in- 
sistently impressed upon his staff and his students: 
namely, that if every dollar contributed were made to do 

259 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

the work of two, more dollars would be forthcoming from 
the same source. 

The two events upon which Booker Washington's pop- 
ular fame chiefly rests are his speech before the Cotton 
States Exposition in Atlanta, Ga., in 1895, and the pub- 
lication of "Up from Slavery" five years later. Since 
"Up from Slavery" played so great a part in aiding its 
author to secure funds for his work it seems appropriate 
to give here some account of how it came to be written, how 
it was written, and how it was received. 

In the year 1900 the editors of the Outlook decided to il- 
lustrate in the concrete the opportunities of America by 
getting some of the Americans of greatest achievement to 
tell how they had risen by their own efforts from the very 
depths of untoward circumstances. For this purpose they 
selected Jacob A Riis and Booker T. Washington. After 
much hesitancy on his part and urgency on theirs Booker 
Washington finally agreed to write the story of his life for 
serial publication in the Outlook. His hesitancy was due 
merely to the fact that he could not believe that the events 
of his life would be of any interest to the public. So con- 
vinced was^he in this belief that he had the greatest diffi- 
culty in starting to write even after he had agreed to do so. 
Finally, after a particularly urgent letter from the editors, 
he stole some hours from his absorbing and exacting duties 
at Tuskegee to write the first chapter. After these efforts 
had been typewritten by his stenographer they produced 
only three and one-half pages — an amount of copy dis- 
couragingly inadequate for the first installment. He 
260 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

mailed the material, however, with a line of apology for its 
inadequacy and promising to send more the next day. On 
receipt of this scant initial copy the editors wrote him a 
letter of congratulation and approval which greatly en- 
couraged him, in spite of his heavy and unrelenting ad- 
ministrative duties, to push ahead with new courage. 
Notwithstanding, however, the best intentions on the part 
of the writer and the most patiently insistent reminders on 
the part of the editors there were many and wide gaps in 
the supposedly consecutive series of chapters before the 
story was finally finished. Much of the story he dragged 
from his tired brain, and jotted down on odds and ends of 
paper on trains, while waiting in railway stations, in hotels, 
and in ten and fifteen minute intervals snatched from over- 
burdened days in his office. The fact that it was a 
physical impossibility to give adequate time and attention 
to so important a piece of work distressed him and made 
him feel even more apologetic about the product. 

The enthusiastic reception of his story by the editors and 
later by the pubHc was accordingly particularly surprising 
and gratifying to him. After its serial publication he was 
soon almost overwhelmed with congratulatory letters and 
laudatory reviews. Julian Ralph in the New York Mail 
and Express wrote in part: 

"It does not matter if the reader feels a prejudice against 
the Negro, or if he be a Negrophile, or if he has never 
cared one way or the other whether the Negro does or does 
not exist. Whatever be his feelings, 'Up from Slavery' is 
as remarkable as the most important book ever written by 

261 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

an American. That book is 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' 
Booker Washington's story is its echo and its antithesis. 
'Uncle Tom's Cabin' was the wail of a fettered, hope-for- 
saken race. 'Up from Slavery' is the triumphant cry of 
the same race, led by its Moses upon a trail which leads to 
an intelligent use of the freedom that came to it as an al- 
most direct result of Mrs. Stowe's revolutionary novel. 
'Up from Slavery' and 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' are insepa- 
rably linked in the history of our relations with our dark- 
skinned fellow-citizen. One book begins precisely where 
the other left off." 

William Dean Howells in the North American Review 
said of it: " . . . What strikes you first and last is 
his constant common sense. He has lived heroic poetry, 
and he can, therefore, afford to talk simple prose. . . . 
The mild might of his adroit, his subtle statesmanship (in 
the highest sense it is not less than statesmanship, and in- 
volves a more Philippine problem in our midst), is the only 
agency to which it can yield. . . ." 

Among the congratulatory letters came one from Athens, 
Greece, signed "Bob Burdette, Mrs. Burdette, and the 
children" which greatly amused and delighted Mr. Wash- 
ington. It reads, paraphrasing the passage in the book 
where he tells of the insistent stranger who unerringly seeks 
him out when he tries to get a little quiet and rest on a 
train, '"Is not this Booker T. Washington.'' We wish to 
introduce ourselves.' You see, you can't escape it. We 
read that sentence, and shouted with delight over it, in 
Damascus. I was going to write — 'far-away Damascus' 
262 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

— but no place is far away now. Damascus is very near to 
Tuskegee, in fact, only six or seven thousand years older, 
and not more than fifty thousand years behind. It must 
have had a good start, too, for Abraham went there or sent 
there to get that wise and tactful 'steward of his house,' 
EHezir. But Damascus has always remained in the same 
place, whereas Tuskegee has been marching on by leaps 
and bounds. But you are a busy man — ^we have heard 
that, even in this land. And I can see you reading this 
letter five lines at a time. No use sitting next the window, 
piling your hand-baggage up in the seat, and pulling your 
hat over your eyes, is there? No, for we come along just 
the same, sit on the arm of the seat, touch your elbow, and 
— 'Is not this Booker T. Washington?' We have been 
travelling for a year. The Outlook has followed us week 
by week. And week by week we have reached out to clasp 
your hand, and have knelt to thank God for the story of 
your life — for its inspiration, its hopefulness, its trust, its 
fidelity to duty and purpose. Such a wonderful story, 
told in the elegance of simpHcity that only a great heart 
can feel and write. We paused again and again to say 
'God bless him.' And now we send you our hand clasp 
and message — 'God bless him and all of his.' There, now! 
You may pile up your baggage a little higher— pull your 
hat down over your eyes a little farther — and pretend to 
sleep a little harder. We will leave you. But not in 
peace. More Hkely in pieces. For I see other people, 
crowding in from the other car, with their ghttering eyes 
gimleted upon you." 

263 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ' 

Barret Wendell, Professor of English at Harvard Uni- 
versity, wrote him: "Will you allow me to express the 
pleasure which your book, 'Up from Slavery,' has given 
me? For about twenty years a teacher of English, and 
mostly of English composition, I have become perhaps a 
judge as to matters of style. Certainly I have grown less 
and less patient of all writing which is not simple and 
efficient; and more and more to believe in a style which does 
its work with a simple, manly distinctness. It is hard 
to remember when a book, casually taken up, has proved, 
in this respect, so satisfactory as yours. " No style could be 
more simple, more unobtrusive; yet few styles which I 
know seem to me more laden^ — as distinguished from 
overburdened — with meaning. On almost any of your 
pages you say as much again as most men would say in 
the space; yet you say it as simply and easily that one 
has no effort in reading. One is simply surprised at the 
quiet power which can so make words do their work." 

Thus was received the simple narrative of his life up to 
this time as hastily written down in odd moments snatched 
from his already overcrowded days. In this country 
alone more than 110,000 copies of the book have since 
been sold. It has been translated into French, Spanish, 
German, Hindustani, and Braille. 

Booker Washington's philosophy as to money raising 
after a generation of constant and successful experience 
was summed up in this statement which he made in "Up 
from Slavery": "My experience in getting money for 
Tuskegee has taught me to have no patience with those 
264 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

people who are always condemning the rich because they 
are rich, because they do not give more to objects of 
charity. In the first place, those who are guilty of such 
sweeping criticisms do not know how many people would 
be made poor, and how much suffering would result, if 
wealthy people were to part all at once with any large 
proportion of their wealth in a way to disorganize and 
cripple great business enterprises. Then very few people 
have any idea of the large number of appHcations for help 
that rich people are constantly being flooded with. I 
know wealthy people who receive as many as twenty calls 
a day for help. More than once, when I have gone into 
offices of rich men, I have found half a dozen persons wait- 
ing to see them, and all come for the same purpose, that 
of securing money. And all these calls in person, to say 
nothing of the applications received through the mails. 
Very few people have any idea of the amount of money 
given away by persons who never permit their names to 
be known. I have often heard persons condemned for 
not giving away money, who, to my own knowledge, were 
giving away thousands of dollars every year so quietly 
that the world knew nothing about it. . . . Although 
it has been my privilege to be the medium through which a 
good many hundred thousand dollars have been received 
for the work at Tuskegee, I have always avoided what the 
world calls 'begging.' My experience and observation 
have convinced me that persistent asking outright for 
money from the rich does not, as a rule, secure help. I 
have usually proceeded on the principle that persons who 

265 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

possess sense enough to earn money have sense enough to 
know how to give it away, and that the mere making 
known of the facts regarding the work of the graduates 
has been more effective than outright begging. I think 
that the presentation of facts, on a high, dignified plane, 
is all the begging that most rich people care for." 

Although this favorable estimate of the money-giving 
rich was based upon many years of successful experience 
it must not be supposed that Booker Washington did not 
have his share of rebuffs and discouragements. In fact, 
scarcely a day went by that he did not receive some such 
disheartening rebuff as the following note from a man who 
had for several years contributed a small sum each year to 
Tuskegee Institute: 

, May lo, 1913. 

Mr. Warren Logan, Treasurer, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, 

Ala. 

Dear Sir: I enclose my check for ten dollars in reply 
to President Washington's appeal of the 6th inst. 

I do not understand why such an appeal should be 
necessary after the large gifts by Mr. Kennedy and others. 
The Indians have received much less than the Negroes in 
money and care, yet they beg less, and are more ready to 
imitate the whites in being self-reliant. All over the 
North I find the Negroes despised by the whites for their 
laziness and disposition to be dependent. 

Very truly. 



Mr. Washington's patient, circumstantial, and construc- 
tively informative reply is characteristic of his method of 

266 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

rejoinder. It also illustrates his habit of placing his re- 
liance on facts and not on adjectives, and of so marshalling 
his facts that they fought his battles for him. He replied 
thus: 

Tushegee Institute, Alabama, 

May 26, 1 91 3. 

My Dear Sir: Our Treasurer has shown me your letter 
of May loth, in which you inquire as to why it should be 
necessary for Tuskegee to appeal to the public for addi- 
tional funds, also stating that the Indians receive much 
less than Negroes in money and care. 

Under the circumstances, I thought you would not ob- 
ject to my making the following report to you, covering 
the inquiries suggested in your letter. 

The Indians from a financial standpoint are better off 
than any other race or class of people in this country. 
The 265,863 Indians in the United States own 72,535,862 
acres of land, which is 273 acres for each Indian man, 
woman, and child. If all the land in the country were 
apportioned among the inhabitants there would be 20 
acres per person. The value of property and funds 
belonging to Indians is ^678,564,253, or $2,554 per capita, 
or about $10,000 per family. The Negroes, but lately 
emancipated, are by contrast poor and are struggling to 
rise. 

The Indians are carefully looked after by the United 
States Government. In addition to the elaborately or- 
ganized Indian Bureau at Washington, there are six 
thousand (6,000) persons in the Indian field service, to 
especially look after and supervise them. There is one 
director, supervisor, or teacher for each 44 Indians. 

Some of the things that the Government does for the 
Indians are: 

267 



BCOKER T. WASHINGTON 

(1) Look after the health of the Indians; for this pur- 
pose there are in the field one Medical Supervisor, loo 
regular and 60 contract physicians, 54 nurses, and 88 field 
matrons. 

(2) Supervise their farming and stock raising. For 
the 24,489 Indians engaged in farming there are two gen- 
eral supervisors, 48 expert farmers, that is, men with ex- 
perience and scientific knowledge, and 210 men in subor- 
dinate farming positions. 

Over $7,000,000 have been spent in irrigating lands for 
Indians. Congress in 191 1 appropriated $1,300,000 for 
this purpose. For the 890,000 Negro farmers in the South, 
the United States Government maintains 34 Agricultural 
Demonstration Agents. 

For the supervision of the 44,985 Indians engaged in 
stock raising, the Government maintains 22 superintend- 
ents of live stock. For the 700,000 Negro farmers engaged 
in live stock raising there is only one Government expert 
working especially among them. 

(3) A system of schools is maintained by the Govern- 
ment for Indian children. For this purpose there are 
223 day schools, 79 reservation boarding schools, and 35 
boarding schools away from reservations. In these 
schools in 191 1 there were 24,500 pupils. For the sup- 
port of these schools the United States Government for 
191 2 appropriated $3,757,495- To assist in teaching the 
1,700,000 Negro children in the South there was received 
in 191 1 from the United States Government $245,518. 

In general the Indians are not taxed for any purpose. 
On the other hand, the Negroes are taxed the same as 
other persons and in this way contribute a considerable 
amount for their own education and the education of the 
whites. In this connection, I call your attention to the 
enclosed pamphlet "Public Taxation and Negro Schools." 
268 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

I enclose herewith copy of my Last Annual Report, 
giving information as to the various activities of the 
Institution. 

Yours very truly, 
[Signed] Booker T. Washington. 

On October 25, 1915, a few weeks before he died, Mr. 
Washington delivered an address before the delegates to 
the National Council of Congregational Churches, in 
New Haven, Conn., in which he well illustrated his belief 
already quoted, "that a large part of the mission of both 
Hampton and Tuskegee is to keep the cause of Negro 
education before the country." He said in part: 

"There is sometimes much talk about the inferiority 
of the Negro. In practice, however, the idea appears 
to be that he is a sort of super-man. He is expected with 
about one-fifth or one-tenth of what the whites receive 
for their education to make as much progress as they are 
making. Taking the Southern States as a whole, about 
^10.23 per capita is spent in educating the average white 
boy or girl, and the sum of $2.82 per capita in educating 
the average black child. 

"In order to furnish the Negro with educational facili- 
ties so that the 2,000,000 children of school age now out of 
school and the 1,000,000 who are unable to read or write 
can have the proper chance in life it will be necessary 
to increase the ^9,000,000 now being expended annually 
Jor Negro public school education in the South to about 
^25,000,000 or ^30,000,000 annually." 

And in conclusion he said: "At the present rate, it is 

269 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

taking not a few days or a few years, but a century or 
more to get Negro education on a plane at all similar to 
that on which the education of the whites now is. To 
bring Negro education up where it ought to be will take 
the combined and increased efforts of all the agencies now 
engaged in this work. The North, the South, the religious 
associations, the educational boards, white people and 
black people, all will have to cooperate in a great effort 
for this common end." 

These were the last words he ever spoke at a great 
public meeting. They show his acute realization of the 
immensity of the task to which he literally gave his hfe, 
and his dread lest what had been accomplished be over- 
estimated with a consequent slackening of effort. 

A very cordial friendship existed between Mr. Wash- 
ington and his Trustees. Every man among them was his 
selection and joined the Board on his invitation. In the 
year 191 2 they manifested their friendship and interest 
in the most practical of ways by volunteering to raise a 
guarantee fund of $50,000 a year for five years to help 
bridge the ever-widening gap between the income of the 
school and its unavoidably mounting expenses. To do 
this, aside from contributing handsomely themselves, 
almost all went out and "begged" of their friends. Mr. 
Julius Rosenwald of Chicago, for instance, after making 
his own liberal personal contribution, and soliciting funds 
among his Chicago friends, left his great and absorbing 
interests at a busy time of the year to go to New York 
and devote a week's time to "begging" money for Tus- 
270 



RAISING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS 

kegee among his friends and acquaintances. Messrs. 
Low, Willcox, Trumbull, Mason, and others also per- 
sonally solicited funds. Many men have gotten million- 
aires to give large sums of money, but how many men 
have ever gotten millionaires both to give large sums 
and personally to solicit large sums for a purely unselfish 
purpose ? 

In his final report Booker Washington said of this 
guarantee fund: "It is not possible to describe in words 
what a relief and help this $50,000 guarantee fund has 
proven during the four years it has been in existence. 
. . . We shall have to begin now to consider some 
method of replacing these donations. The relief which 
has come to us because of this guarantee fund has been 
marked and far reaching." ^ 

The same qualities which enabled Booker Washington 
to get close to the plain people helped him to win the 
confidence of the great givers. Through his money- 
raising efforts he constantly added to his great stock of 
knowledge of human nature. Also the same qualities 
of heart and mind which enabled him to rise superior to 
the obstacles of race prejudice helped him to bear without 
discouragement or bitterness the many rebuffs of the 
money raiser. One cannot help speculating, however, 
on the loss to Tuskegee, to the Negro race, and to the 
general welfare, entailed by the necessity of his devoting 
two-thirds of his time, strength, and resourcefulness merely 
to the raising of money. 



271 



CHAPTER ELEVEN 

MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

BOOKER WASHINGTON'S chief characteristic as an 
administrator was his faculty for attention to minute 
details without losing sight of his large purposes and 
ultimate ends. His grasp of every detail seems more 
remarkable when one realizes the dimensions of his 
administrative task. Besides leading his race in Amer- 
ica, and to some extent throughout the world, and raising 
between one hundred thousand and two hundred thou- 
sand dollars each year, he administered an institution 
whose property and endowment are valued at almost 
four million dollars. Although the original property of 
the school was only a hundred acres of land with three 
small buildings, it now owns twenty-four hundred acres, 
with one hundred and eleven buildings, large and small, 
in its immediate vicinity. In addition to these twenty- 
four hundred acres of land the school now owns also about 
twenty thousand acres, being the unsold balance of a 
grant of twenty-five thousand acres of mineral land, made 
by the Federal Government as an endowment to the 
Institute in 1899. 

The organization of the Institute ramifies throughout 
the entire county in which it is located. It has a resident 
272 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

student population of between fifteen hundred and two 
thousand boys and girls, with a teaching force of about 
two hundred men and women. It enrolls in its courses 
throughout the year from thirty-five hundred to four 
thousand persons. The receipts of its post office exceed 
those of the entire postal service of the Negro Republic of 
Liberia in Africa. In a given year the revenues of Liberia 
were $301,238 and the expenditures $314,000. In the same 
year the receipts from all sources of Tuskegee Institute 
were $321,864.87 and its expenditures $341,141.58. 

Booker Washington so organized this great institution 
that it ran smoothly and without apparent loss of mo- 
mentum for the nine months out of the twelve, during the 
greater part of which He was obliged to be absent raising 
the funds with which to keep it going. The Institute is in 
continuous session throughout the twelve months of the 
year. During the summer months a summer school for 
teachers is conducted in place of the academic depart- 
ment. For the purposes of this summer school all or 
most of the trades and industries are kept in operation. 

The school is organized on this basis. There is, first, 
a Board of Trustees which holds the property in trust and 
advises the principal as to general policies, etc., and aids 
him in the raising of funds; second, the principal, who has 
sole charge of all administrative matters; third, an execu- 
tive council, composed of the heads of departments, 
with the principal as its chairman. The following officers 
serve as members of this executive council: Principal, 
treasurer, secretary, general superintendent of indus- 

273 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

tries, director mechanical industries, director department 
of research and Experiment Station, commandant, 
business agent, chief accountant, director agricultural 
department, registrar, medical director, dean women's 
department, director women's industries, chaplain, direc- 
tor extension department, superintendent buildings and 
grounds, dean Phelps Hall Bible Training School, director 
academic department. 

The position of general superintendent of industries is 
held by John H. Washington, brother of Booker T. Wash- 
ington. Mrs. Booker T. Washington fills the position of 
director women's industries. 

After this executive council comes the faculty made 
up of the leading teachers who have charge of the instruc- 
tion in the various divisions of the agricultural, industrial, 
and academic departments. This faculty Mr. Washing- 
ton in turn subdivided into a series of standing and special 
committees having particular charge of certain phases of 
the work such as repairs, cleanliness, etc. The committee 
on cleanliness would, for instance, be expected to see that 
the boarding department was insisting upon the proper 
use of knives and forks and napkins — was serving the 
food hot and in proper dishes, and that the kitchens were 
at all times ready for inspection and models of cleanliness. 

In the same way he constantly appointed committees 
to go into the academic classes and see that they were 
correlating their work with the trade work. The tend- 
ency to backslide is especially strong in an institution 
which, like Tuskegee, is working out original problems. 
274 




Some of Mr. Washington's humble friends (See page Ij6) 




Soil analysis. 1 he students are required to work out in the laboratory 
the problems of the field and the shop 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

It is fatally easy for the teachers in both academic and 
industrial classes to slip away from the correlative method, 
for which the institution stands, back to the traditional 
routine. The correlative method requires constant 
thought. As Mr. Washington well knew, the average 
person only thinks under constant prodding. Hence, 
the committees to do the prodding! It is so much easier 
to take one's problems from the text-books than to dig 
them up in the shops or on the farm as to be practically 
irresistible unless one is being watched. Then, in the 
shops it requires a constant effort to work the theory in 
with the practice. If the instructors in the trades tended 
to become mere unthinking mechanics a vigilant com- 
mittee was at hand to keep them true to their better lights. 
And if the committees themselves ever became slack, the 
all-seeing eye of the principal soon detected it and they 
in turn were "jacked up." Mr. Washington himself had 
a way of leisurely strolling about day or night into shop, 
classroom, or laboratory with a stenographer at his elbow. 
If he thus came upon a recitation in which no illustrative 
material was used, that teacher would receive within the 
next few hours a note such as this : 

December 8, 1914. 

Mr. : After a visit to your class yesterday, I 

want to make this suggestion — that you get into close 
contact with some of the teachers here Hke Mrs. Jones of 
the Children's House, and Mrs. Ferguson, Head of the 
Division of Education, and Mr. Whiting of the Division 
of Mathematics, who understand our methods of teaching 
and try to learn our methods. 

275 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Your work yesterday was very far from satisfactory, 

not based upon a single liuniaii experience or human activity. 
[Signed] liooKER T. Washington, Principal. 

Three days before lie liad sent the following note to 
the head of the academic department: 

Mr. Lee, Director of the Academic Depart mevt : 
I was very glad to see the wideawake class conducted 
by Mr. Smith this morning. His methods are certainly 
good. 

On asking questions of the individual members of the 
class, I found that about half of the class did not know 
just what was to be found out from the measurements. 
If Mr. Smith will go to the new Laundry Building, in 
case he has not done so, he will find an opportunity to 
teach the same lessons in connection with a real building. 
I hope you will make this suggestion to him. Nothnig 
takes the place of reality wherever we can get something 
real. 

[Signed] Booker T. Washington, Principal. 

Previous to this he had written Mr. Lee the following 
letter relative to the general problem of the teaching 
efficiency in his department : 

November 24, 1 9 14. 
Mr. Lee, Director Academic Department: 

When you return, I want to urge that you give careful 
but serious attention to the following suggestions: 

First, I am convinced that we must arrange to give 
more systematic and constant attention to the individual 
teachers in your department in the way of seeing that they 

276 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

follow your wishes and policy regarding the dovetailing 
of the academic work into the industrial work. 

I am quite convinced that the matter is taken up in 
rather a spasmodic way; that is, so long as you are on 
hand and can give the matter personal attention, it is 
followed, but when you cease to give personal attention 
to it or are away, matters go back to the old rut, or nearly 
so. 

In some way we must all get together and help j^ou to 
organize your department so that this will not be true. 

There are two elements of weakness in the academic 
work: First, I very much fear that we take into it every 
year too many green teachers, who know nothing about 
your methods. This pulls the whole tone of the academic 
work down before you can train them into your methods. 
I am quite sure that though you might not get teachers 
who have had so much book training, that it would be 
worth your considering to employ a larger number of 
Hampton graduates or Tuskegee graduates, who have 
had in a measure the methods which you believe in in- 
stilled into them. 

In my opinion, the time has come when you must con- 
sider seriously the getting rid of, or shifting, some of your 
older teachers. You have teachers in your department 
who have been here a good many years, and experience 
proves that they do not adapt themselves readily and 
systematically to your methods. I think it would be 
far better for the school to find employment for them 
outside of the Academic Department, or to let them 
take some clerical work in your department, than for them 
to occupy positions of importance and influence, which 
they are not filling satisfactorily and where they have an 
influence in hurting the character of the whole teaching. 

All these matters I hope you will consider very carefully. 

277 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

I am sure that the time has come when definite and serious 
action is needed. 

Booker T. Washington, Principal. 



First and last on these apparently aimless strolls with a 
stenographer he visited not only the classrooms and 
shops but every corner of the great institution. He would 
return to his office with a notebook full of memoranda of 
matters to be followed up or changed, and of people to 
be commended or censured for their efficient or inefficient 
handling of this, that, or the other piece of work. Once 
after writing a series of letters calling attention to ragged 
tablecloths, unclean napkins, and uncleanliness in other 
forms in kitchens, bakery, and dining-rooms without the 
desired result, he personally took charge of the situation, 
organized a squad of workers, put things in proper condi- 
tion, and then insisted that they be kept in such condition. 

His passion to utilize every fraction of time to its maxi- 
mum advantage led him even to smuggle a stenographer 
into the formal annual exercises of the Bible Training 
School so that he might during the exercises clandestinely 
dictate notes for the head of the Bible school as to those 
features in which the program was weak, failed "to get 
across," did not hold the interest of the people, seemed to 
be over their heads, or whatever might be his diagnosis of 
the difficulty. He was not interested in the program for 
and of itself, but was keenly interested in its effect upon 
the people. If it interested and helped them, it was a 
good program; if it did not, it was a poor program and no 
278 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

amount of learning or technical perfection could redeem it. 
He sometimes reduced his more scholarly teachers to the 
verge of despair by his insistence that there should be 
nothing on the program at any exercise to which the public 
was invited which the every-day man and woman could not 
understand and appreciate. 

In opening the chapter we mentioned Booker Washing- 
ton's faculty for giving attention to apparently trivial de- 
tails ^vithout losing sight of his large policies and purposes. 
This was part of his habit of taking nothing for granted. 
He never assumed that people would do or had done what 
they should do or should have done any more than he 
assumed they would not or had not done what they should. 
He neither trusted nor distrusted them. He kept himself 
constantly informed. Every person employed by the in- 
stitution from the most important department heads down 
to the men who removed ashes and garbage were under the 
stimulating apprehension that his eye might be upon them 
at any moment. He harassed his subordinates by contin- 
ually asking them if this or that matter had been attended 
to. He would sometimes ask three different people to do 
the same thing. This resulted in wasted effort on some- 
body's part, but it always accomplished the result, which 
was all that interested him. He took nothing for granted 
himself and he insisted that his subordinates take nothing 
for granted. He was a task master and a "driver" but 
he taxed himself more heavily and drove himself harder 
than he did any one else. Like other strong men, he had 
the weaknesses of his strength, and probabh^ his most 

279 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

serious weakness was driving himself and his subordinates 
beyond his and their strength. 

His eye was daily upon every part of the great machine 
which he had built up through an exhaustive system of 
daily reports. These reports were placed on his desk each 
morning when at the Institute and mailed to him each 
morning when away. They showed him the number of 
students in the hospital with the name, diagnosis, and 
progress of each case. From the poultry yard came re- 
ports giving the number of eggs in the incubators, the num- 
ber hatched since the day before, the number of chickens 
which had died, the number of eggs and chickens sold, etc. 
Similarly daily reports came from the swine herd, the 
dairy herd, and all the other groups of live stock. 

He received also each morning a report from the savings 
department giving the number of new depositors, the 
amounts of money deposited and withdrawn, and the con- 
dition of the bank at the close of the previous day. There 
was, too, a list of the requisitions approved by the Business 
Committee the previous day giving articles, prices, divi- 
sions, or departments in which each was to be used and to- 
tals for different classes of requisitions. 

The Boarding Department head would report just what 
had been served the students at the three meals of the day 
before. In running over these menus he would give a con- 
temptuous snort if he came upon any instance of what he 
called "feeding the students out of the barrel." By this 
he meant buying food which could as well or better have 
been raised on the Institute farms. He objected to this 
280 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

practice not only because it was more expensive, but be- 
cause it eliminated the work of raising, preparing, and 
serving the foods which he regarded as a valuable ex- 
ercise in civilization. He also insisted that everything 
raised on the farms should in one way or another be used 
by the students. Besides serving to the students every 
variety of Southern vegetable from the Institute's exten- 
sive truck gardens, he always insisted that their own corn 
be ground into meal and that they make their own pre- 
serves out of their own peaches, blackberries, and other 
fruits. In other words, he made the community feed it- 
self just as far as possible. And this he did quite as much 
because of the knowledge of the processes of right living 
which it imparted as for the money which it saved. 

The Treasurer also submitted a daily report of contri- 
butions and other receipts of the previous day with the 
name and address of each contributor. Mr. Washington 
arranged to receive and look over these daily reports even 
when travelling. Hence, in a sense, he was never absent. 
Only very rarely and under most unusual circumstances 
did he cut this means of daily contact with the multifold 
activities of the institution. 

Although a task master, a driver, and a relentless critic, 
he was just in his dealings with his subordinates and his 
students, very appreciative of kindness or thoughtfulness, 
and generous in his approbation of tasks well done. Three 
of the younger children of oiEcers of the school, while out 
walking with one of their teachers, discovered a fire in the 
woods near the Institute one day. After notifying the men 

281 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

working nearby, the children hurried home and wrote Mr. 
Washington a letter telling him about the fire. They had 
heard him warn people against the danger of forest fires 
and of the great harm they did. This letter the three 
children excitedly took to the Principal's home themselves, 
as it was on Sunday. He was not in, but the first letter he 
dictated on arriving at his office the next morning was this: 

March 24, 1915. 
Miss Beatrice Taylor, Miss Louise Logan, Miss Lenora Scott: 
I have received your kind and thoughtful letter of 
yesterday regarding the forest fire and am very grateful to 
you for the information which it contains. It is very kind 
and thoughtful of you to write me. I shall pass your letter 
to Mr. Bridgeforth, the Head of the Department, and ask 
him to look after the matter. 

[Signed] Booker T. Washington, Principal. 

In the fall of the same year he addressed this letter of 
appreciation to Mr. Bridgeforth, director of the Agricul- 
tural Department, mentioned in the note of the children: 

Principal's Office, 

Tuskegee Institute, Alabama 

October 4, 1915. 
Mr. G. R. Bridgeforth, Director of Agricultural Department: 
I have been spending a considerable portion of each day 
in inspecting the farm, and I want to congratulate you and 
all of your assistants on account of the fine sweet potato 
crop which has been produced. It is certainly the finest 
crop produced in the history of the school. 
282 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

You deserve equal commendation, especially in view of 
the season you have had to contend with, in connection 
with the fine hay crop, the pea crop, and the peanut crop. 

I wish you would let the members of your force know 
how I feel regarding their work. 

I believe if the farm goes on under present conditions, 
that at the end of the year it will very much please the 
Trustees to note the results accomplished especially so 
far as the Budget is concerned. 

[Signed] Booker T. Washington, Principal. 



His quick mind and his keen sense of humor would some- 
times lead him to make fun in a kindly way of his slower 
colleagues. The members of the Executive Council and 
the Faculty sometimes felt he treated them rather too 
much as if he were the teacher and they the pupils. His 
frequent humorous sallies and stories exasperated some of 
the more serious-minded members of his staff very much as 
Lincoln's sallies and stories exasperated some of the mem- 
bers of his Cabinet, particularly Secretary Stanton. This 
sense of humor was undoubtedly with Booker Washington 
as with Abraham Lincoln one of the great safety valves 
without which he could not have carried his heavy burden 
as long as he did. 

Among other things he always insisted that the human 
element be put into the work of the institution and kept in 
it. He would reprimand a subordinate just as sharply for 
failure to be human as for a specific neglect of duty. He 
was particularly insistent that all letters to the parents of 
the students should be intimate and friendly rather than 

283 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

formal and stereotyped. He believed that nothing would 
more quickly or more surely kill the effectiveness of the 
school than the application of cut-and-dried theories and 
formulas to the handling of the students and their problems. 
He never lost sight of the fact that the most perfect educa- 
tional machine becomes worthless if the soul goes out of it. 

On his return from trips he would write a personal letter 
about their boy or girl to each parent whom he had met 
while away. After he had addressed a meeting and was 
shaking hands with those who came forward to meet him a 
man would say, as one once did, with embarrassed pride, 
"I 'spec you know my boy — he's down to your school. 
He's a tall, black boy an' wears a derby hat." When Mr. 
Washington got back to Tuskegee he sent for "the tall, 
black boy" with the derby hat and wrote his proud father 
all about him. 

On his return from journeys he would write individual 
letters not only to the parents of students and to his hosts 
and hostesses, but to each and every person who had tried 
in any way to contribute to the pleasure and success of his 
trip. On returning from the State educational tours 
which we have described he would write personal letters of 
thanks and appreciation not only to every member of the 
general committee on arrangements which had managed 
his tour throughout the State, but also to every member of 
the local committees for the various towns and cities which 
he visited. He would also write such a letter to the Gover- 
nor or Mayor or whatever public official or prominent 
citizen had introduced him. Usually on these tours 
284 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

school children, or a group of women representing a local 
colored women's club, would present him with flowers. 
He would in such cases insist that the name of each child or 
each woman in the group be secured so that he might on his 
return write to each one a personal letter of thanks. 
Many such letters are now among the treasured posses- 
sions of humble Negro homes throughout the country. 

Recognizing that Tuskegee's chief claim to support from 
the public must be found in the achievements of her grad- 
uates he built up the Division of Records and Research to 
keep in constant touch with the graduates and gather infor- 
mation about them and their work. By this means he 
could find out in detail at a moment's notice what most of 
the graduates were doing and in terms of statistics what all 
were doing. Eighteen to twenty of them are building up or 
conducting schools on the model of Tuskegee Institute in 
parts of the South where they are most needed . With these 
he naturally sought to keep in particularly close touch. 

With funds provided for the purpose by one of the Tus- 
kegee Trustees, committees of Tuskegee officers and 
teachers are sent from time to time to visit these schools 
established by Tuskegee graduates. They act as friendly 
inspectors and advisers. The following is the plan of re- 
port drafted for the guidance of these committees: 

OBSERVATIONS 

I. Physical. 

(a) Cleanliness of premises. 

(b) Keeping up repairs. 

285 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

2. Teaching. 

(a) Methods of instruction. 

(b) Books used, etc., that is, are they up to date. 

(c) To what extent correlation is being carried out. 

(d) Visiting teachers might give some definite dem- 

onstrations in methods, etc. 

(e) Special meetings with the faculty should be held. 

3. Financial. 

(a) To what extent does the school keep up with its 
accounts so that its receipts and expenditures 
can be easily ascertained ? 

4. Community work. 

(a) Extension activities carried on by the school. 

(b) The efficiency of these activities. 

5. Attendance. 

(a) Number of students enrolled on date of visit. 

(b) Number in attendance on date of visit. 

(c) What efforts are being made to get the students 

to enter at the beginning of the term and remain 
throughout the year ? 

SUGGESTIONS 

1. Before concluding its visit the committee should 
make, to proper persons in the school, suggestions con- 
cerning the improving of the teaching and of other things 
as may be necessary. 

2. If committee makes a second visit, see to what extent 
the suggestions of the previous visit have been carried out. 

REPORT 

After each visit a written report by the committee 
covering all of the above shall be sent to Principal Wash- 
ington. 

286 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

To all the graduates of the Institute Mr. Washington 
sent a circular letter on the first of each year in which 
frequently he told them of the progress that had been 
made by the school during the year in improvements, 
number of students enrolled, etc., and asked them in turn 
to answer a list of questions about their life and work, or 
sometimes in such letters he merely wished them success 
and gave them some practical advice. The 1913 letter 
which follows is an example of the latter: 

Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, 

January i, 1913. 
Dear Mr. (or Miss) Blank: 

I take this opportunity to send you greetings, to inquire 
how you are getting along, and to express the hope that 
in every way you are prospering. If, however, you are 
having discouragements, I trust that you are meeting 
them bravely. If you have difficulties, or are laboring 
under disadvantages, use them as stepping-stones to 
success. 

I again call your attention to the importance of keeping 
in touch with the Institute. Keeping your address on 
file with us and sending a report of your work will assist 
in doing this. I enclose herewith a blank for that pur- 
pose. Visits to the school should also be made from time 
to time. You should begin to prepare now to be here 
during the coming commencement exercises in May in 
order that you may see what is being done at the institu- 
tion and to meet your former classmates. Already the 
ofiicers of the General Alumni Association have begun 
preparations for your welcome. 

I urge upon you the importance of keeping up the habit 

287 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

of study and of reading good books and papers. The ac- 
companying circular on "How to Buy Books" gives val- 
uable suggestions about how to secure the best books 
cheaply. I take this occasion to inform you that already 
we are making preparations for our 191 3 Summer School. 
It is hoped that every graduate who is teaching will attend 
this or some other good summer school. 

I trust that wherever you are located you will do all that 
you can for community uplift. Be active in church and 
Sunday-school work, help to improve the public schools, 
assist in bettering health conditions, help the people to 
secure property, to buy homes and to improve them. In 
doing all these things, you will be carrying out the Tuske- 
gee idea. 

Very truly yours, 
[Signed] Booker T. Washington, Principal. 

The questions were slightly varied from year to year. 
The following were those sent out with the 191 5 letter — 
the last to bear the signature of the Institute's founder. 

Please favor me by answering these questions and returning the 
blank as soon as you receive it. 

1. Your full name when at Tuskegee? 

2. Whatyear were you graduated from Tuskegee? 

3. Your present home address ? 

4. If you are not at home, your temporary address for the winter 

ofi9i5-i9i6? 

S- If you have married, your wife's name before marriage? . 

Was she ever a student at Tuskegee? 

Is she living? 

6. Your present occupation? If in educational work, give your 

position in the school 

7. How long have you followed it ? 

288 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

8. What are your average wages or earnings per day, week, or 

month? 

9. What other occupation have you? 

10. Average wages per day, week, or month at this occupation ? . • 

11. Kind and amount of property owned? 

12. Tell us something of the work you are doing this year. (We 

will also be pleased to receive testimonials from white and 
colored persons concerning your work) 

13. We especially wish to get in touch this year with as many of our 

former students as possible. Please give present addresses 

and occupations of all of these that you can 

Booker T. Washington, Principal. 
Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. 

As previously mentioned the relationship between Mr. 
Washington and his Trustees was at all times particularly 
friendly and harmonious. While they were always di- 
rectors who directed instead of mere figureheads, they 
nevertheless were broad enough and wise enough to give 
the Principal a very free reign. Preeminent among the 
able and devoted Trustees of Tuskegee was the late Wil- 
liam H. Baldwin, Jr. In order to commemorate his life 
and work the Wilham H. Baldwin, Jr., Memorial Fund of 
$150,000 was raised by a committee of distinguished men, 
with Oswald Garrison Villard of the New York Evening 
Post as chairman, among whom were Theodore Roosevelt, 
Grover Cleveland, and Charles W. Eliot, and placed at 
the disposal of the Tuskegee Trustees. A bronze memo- 
rial tablet in memory of Mr. Baldwin was at the same time 
placed on the Institute grounds. At the ceremony at 
which this tablet was unveiled and this fund presented to 
the Trustees, Mr. Washington said in part, in speaking of 

289 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

his relations with Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Baldwin's rela- 
tions to Tuskegee: 

"Only those who are close to the business structure of 
the institution could really understand what the coming 
into our work of a man like William H. Baldwin meant 
to all of us. In the first place, it meant the bringing into 
our work a certain degree of order, a certain system, so far 
as the business side of the institution was concerned, that 
had not hitherto existed. Then the coming of him into our 
institution meant the bringing of new faith, meant the 
bringing of new friends. I shall never forget my first 
impression. I shall never forget my first experience in 
meeting Mr. Baldwin. At that time he was the General 
Manager and one of the Vice-Presidents of the Southern 
Railway, located then in its headquarters in the city of 
Washington. I remember that, a number of days pre- 
vious, I had gone to the city of Boston and had asked his 
father if he would not give me a line of introduction to his 
son, about whom I had already heard in Washington. 
Mr. Baldwin's father readily gave me a line of introduc- 
tion and I went in a few days after that and sought out Mr. 
Baldwin in his Washington office and he looked through 
this letter of introduction, read it carefully, then he looked 
me over, up and down, and I asked him if he would not 
become a trustee of this institution. After looking me 
over, looking me up and down for a few seconds or a few 
minutes longer, he said, 'No, I cannot become a trustee; 
I will not say I will become a trustee because when I give 
my word to become a trustee it must mean something.* 
290 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

He said, 'I will study the institution at Tuskegee, I will 
go there and look it over and after I have found out what 
your methods are, what you are driving at — if your meth- 
ods and objects commend themselves to me, then I will 
consent to become a trustee.' And I remember how well 
— some of the older teachers and perhaps some of the 
older students will recall — that upon one day, when we 
were least expecting it, he stopped his private car off here 
at Chehaw and appeared here upon our grounds, and 
some of us will recall how he went into every department 
of the institution, how he went into the classrooms, how 
he went through the shops, how he went through the 
farm, how he went through the dining-room; I remem- 
ber how he went to each table, and took pieces of bread 
from the table and broke them and examined the bread to 
see how well it was cooked, and even tasted some of it as 
he went into the kitchen. He wanted to be sure how we 
were doing things here at Tuskegee. Then after he had 
made this visit of examination for himself, after he had 
studied our financial condition, then after a number of 
months had passed by, he consented to permit us to use 
his name as one of our Trustees, and from the beginning 
to the end we never had such a trustee. He was one 
who devoted himself night and day, winter and summer, in 
season and out of season, to the interests of this institution. 
Now, having spoken this word, you can understand the 
thoughts and the feelings of some of us on this occasion 
as we think of the services of this great and good man. 
"It is one of the privileges of people who are not always 

291 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

classed among the popular people of earth to have strong 
friends for the reason that nobody but a strong man will 
endure the public criticism that so often comes to one who 
is the friend of a weak or unpopular race. This, in the 
words of another, is one of the advantages enjoyed some- 
times by a disadvantaged race." 

Naturally no account of Booker Washington's adminis- 
tration of the great institution which he built would be 
complete without some mention of Mrs. Washington's 
part in her husband's work. Aside from her duties as wife, 
mother, and home maker — duties which any ordinary 
woman would find quite exacting enough to absorb all her 
time, thought, and strength particularly in view of the 
fact that a wide hospitality is part of the role^Mrs. 
Washington, as director of women's industries, is one of 
the half-dozen leading executives of the institution. In 
addition to her many and varied family and official duties 
at the Institute Mrs. Washington has always been a 
leader in social service and club work among the women of 
her race throughout the country, and has besides all this 
come to be a kind of mother confessor, advisor, and guide 
to hundreds of young men and women. We will conclude 
this chapter by quoting in large part an article written 
by Mr. Scott and published some years ago in the Ladies' 
Home Journal, which describes how and when Mrs. Wash- 
ington entered her husband's life and work and the part 
she played in his affairs : 

"Even before the war closed there came to the South 
on the heels of the army of emancipation an army of 
292 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

school teachers. They came to perfect with the spelling- 
book and the reader the work that the soldiers had begun 
with the sword. It was during this period in the little 
straggling village of Macon, Miss., that a little girl, 
called then Margaret Murray, but who is known now as 
Mrs. Booker T. Washington, was born. When she grew 
old enough to count she found herself one of a family of 
ten and, like nearly all children of Negro parentage, at 
that time, very poor. 

"In the grand army of teachers who went South in 
1864 and 1865 were many Quakers. Prevented by the 
tenets of their religion from entering the army as soldiers 
these people were the more eager to do the not less dif- 
ficult and often dangerous work of teachers among the 
freedmen after the war was over. 

"One of the first memories of her childhood is of her 
father's death. It was when she was seven years old. 
The next day she went to the Quaker school teachers, a 
brother and sister, Sanders by name, and never went 
back home to live. 

"Thus at seven she became the arbiter of her own fate. 
The incident is interesting in showing thus early a certain 
individuality and independence of character which she 
has exhibited all through her life. In the breaking or 
loosening of the family relations after the death of her 
father she determined to bestow herself upon her Quaker 
neighbors. The secret of it, of course, was that the child 
was possessed even then with a passion for knowledge 
which has never since deserted her. Rarely does a day 

293 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

pass that Mrs. Washington amid the cares of her house- 
hold, of the school, and of the many philanthropic and 
social enterprises in which she takes a leading part, does 
not devote half or three-quarters of an hour to downright 
study. 

"And so it was that Margaret Murray became at seven 
a permanent part of the Quaker household, and became 
to all intents and purposes, so far as her habits of thought 
and religious attitude are concerned, herself a Quaker. 

"'And in those early days,' says Mrs. Washington, 
laughing, 'I learned easily and quickly. It was only 
after I grew up that I began to grow dull. I used to sit 
up late at night and get up early in the morning to study 
my lessons. I was not always a good child, I am sorry 
to say, and sometimes I would hide away under the house 
in order to read and study.' . . . 

"When Margaret Murray was fourteen years old the 
good Quaker teacher said one day, 'Margaret, would thee 
like to teach?' That very day the little girl borrowed a 
long skirt and went downtown to the office of Judge Ames, 
and took her examination. It was not a severe examina- 
tion. Judge Ames had known Margaret all her life and 
he had known her father, and in those days white people 
were more lenient with Negro teachers than they are now. 
They did not expect so much of them. And so, the next 
day, Margaret Murray stepped into the schoolroom 
where she had been the day before a pupil and became a 
teacher. 

"Then Margaret heard of the school at Nashville — 
294 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

Fisk University — and she went there. She had a Httle 
money when she started to school, and with that and 
what she was able to earn at the school and by teaching 
during vacations she managed to work her way as — ^what 
was termed rather contemptuously in those days — a 
'half-rater.' It was not the fashion at that time, in spite 
of the poverty of the colored people, for students to work 
their way through school. 

"In those days very little had been heard at Fisk of 
Tuskegee, of Hampton, or of Booker T. Washington. 
Students who expected to be teachers were looking for- 
ward to going to Texas. Texas has always been more 
favorable to Negro education than other Southern States 
and has always got the best of Negro public school teachers. 

"But upon graduation day, June, 1889, Booker T. 
Washington was at Fisk, and he sat opposite Margaret 
Murray at table. About that time it was arranged that 
she should go to Texas, but, without knowing just how it 
came about, she decided to go to Tuskegee and become 
what was then called the Lady Principal of the school. 
Mrs. Washington has been at Tuskegee ever since. 

"Mrs. Washington's duties as the wife of the Principal 
of the Tuskegee Institute are many and various. She 
has charge of all the industries for girls. She gives much 
time to the extension work of the school, which includes 
the 'Mothers' meetings' in the town of Tuskegee and 
the 'plantation settlement' nearby. Her most char- 
acteristic trait, however, is a boundless sympathy which 
has made her a sort of Mother Confessor to students and 

29s 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

teachers of the Institute. All go to her for comfort and 
advice. 

"The 'mothers' meetings' grew out of the first Tuskegee 
Negro Conference held at Tuskegee in February, 1892. 
Mrs. Washington, as she sat in the first meeting of Negro 
farmers and heard what they had to say, was impressed 
with the fact that history was repeating itself. Here 
again, as in the early days of the woman's suflfrage move- 
ment, women had no place worth mentioning in the im- 
portant concerns of life outside the household. While 
there were many women present at this first conference, 
they did not seem to realize that they had any interest 
in the practical afFairs that were being discussed by their 
sons and husbands. While her husband was trying to 
give these farmers new ideas, new hopes, new aspirations, 
the thought came to Mrs. Washington that the Tuskegee 
village was the place for her to begin a work which should 
eventually include all the women of the county and of the 
neighboring counties. The country colored women crowd 
into the villages of the South on Saturday, seeking to 
vary the monotony of their hard and cheerless lives. 
Mrs. Washington determined to get hold of these women 
and utilize the time spent in town to some good purpose. 
Accordingly, the first mothers' meeting was organized in 
the upper story of an old store which then stood on the 
main street of the village. The stairs were so rickety 
that the women were almost afraid to ascend them. It 
answered the purpose temporarily, however, and there 
was no rent to pay. How to get the women to the meet- 
296 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

ing was, for a time, a question. For fear of opposition 
Mrs. Washington took no one into her confidence except 
the man who let her have the room. She sent a small boy- 
through the streets with the instruction to go to every 
colored woman loitering about the streets and say: 'There 
is a woman upstairs who has something for you.' Mrs. 
Washington says: 'That first meeting I can never forget. 
The women came, and each one, as she entered, looked 
at me and seemed to say, 'Where is it?' We talked it 
all over, the needs of our women of the country, the 
best way of helping each other, and there and then began 
the first mothers' meeting which now has in its member- 
ship two hundred and twenty-nine women.' . . . 

"Mrs. Washington asked some of the teachers at 
Tuskegee to begin to help these people (the people of 
the country districts surrounding the schcol). At first 
they went to the plantation (selected for the purpose) 
on Sundays only. Mrs. Washington selected what 
seemed to be the most promising cabin and asked the 
woman who lived there if she could come to that house 
the next Sunday and hold a meeting. When the party 
went down early the next Sunday morning a stout new 
broom was taken along. Making the woman a present 
of the broom, it was suggested that all take a hand in 
cleaning the house a little before the people should begin 
to come. The woman took the broom and swept half of 
the room, when Mrs. Washington volunteered to finish 
the job. 

"She had not gone far along on her half before the 

297 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

woman was saying: 'Oh, Mis' Washington, lemme take 
de brom an' do mah half ovah.' Mrs. Washington says: 
'I have always thought that that one unconscious lesson 
in thoroughness was the foundation of our work on that 
plantation.' . . . 

"Not the least of the duties which fall to Mrs. Wash- 
ington is that of caring for the distinguished people who 
visit the Tuskegee Institute. The Tuskegee rule that 
everything must be in readiness for the inspection of 
visitors, as much so in the kitchen as in any other depart- 
ment of the school, prevails in her home also. 

"An interesting part of this home life is the Sunday 
morning breakfast. The teachers have slept later than 
usual, and, through the year, when Mr. Washington is at 
home, they are invited in groups of three and four to 
share this morning meal. In this way he keeps in per- 
sonal touch with each of his teachers; he knows what they 
are doing; he hears their complaints, if they have any; 
he counsels with them; they 'get together.' 

"Mrs. Washington's labors for the good of her people 
are not confined to the school. She is (has been) president 
of the Southern Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, 
editor of the official organ of the National Federation of 
Colored Women's Clubs, of which she is also an officer. 
She is a frequent contributor to the newspapers and 
magazines. (Mrs. Washington has since served two 
terms as president of the National Federation of Colored 
Women's Clubs.) 

"Mr. Washington's own estimate of his wife's help- 
298 



MANAGING A GREAT INSTITUTION 

fulness to him may be gathered from his tribute in his 
widely read autobiography, 'Up from Slavery': 'She 
is completely one with me in the work directly connected 
with the school, relieving me of many burdens and per- 
plexities. 



299 



CHAPTER TWELVE 

WASHINGTON: THE MAN 

JUST as in the first chapter we sought to show the 
man in the making, so in this last chapter we shall 
seek to picture him as he became in the full frui- 
tion of his life. In the fully developed man of the last 
decade of his life we find the same traits and qualities 
which began to show themselves in those early years of 
constant struggle and frequent privation. There is the 
same intense mental and physical activity; the same 
readiness to fight against any odds in a good cause; the 
same modesty, frankness, open-mindedness, and passion 
for service. 

One of the many illustrations of this intense activity was 
shown in a trip he made to Atlanta, Ga., three or four years 
before he died. Even at this time his strength had begun 
to wane. In accordance with his unfailing practice he got 
up at six o'clock in the morning, and after visiting his 
poultry and his beloved pigs, mounted his horse and rode 
over farms and grounds inspecting crops and buildings and 
what-not until eight o'clock, when he went to his office and 
attacked his huge morning's mail. After dictating for an 
hour or more he left his office just in time to catch a train 
which brought him to Atlanta at two o'clock in the after- 
300 



THE MAN 

noon. At the station he shook hands with four hundred 
people who had gathered to meet him. As he went along 
the streets to the Government Building he shook hands 
with many others who recognized him in passing. At the 
Government Building he shook hands with another large 
group assembled there to meet him. After the dinner 
tendered him by some of the leading individuals and asso- 
ciations arrjong the Negroes of the city he posed for his 
photograph with a group of those at the dinner. He then 
made a tour of the city by motor, during which he visited 
three or four schools for Negroes and at each made a half- 
hour speech into which, as always, he threw all the force 
and energy there was in him. 

After supper that evening he addressed twelve hundred 
people in the Auditorium Armory, speaking for an hour 
and a half. From the armory he went to a banquet given 
in his honor where he gave a twenty-minute talk. He did 
not get to bed until one o'clock. Four hours later he took a 
return train which brought him back to the school by ten- 
thirty. He went at once to his office and to work, working 
until late in the afternoon when he called for his horse and 
took his usual ride before supper. After supper he pre- 
sided at a meeting of the Executive Council and after the 
Council meeting he attended the Chapel exercises. After 
these exercises were over at ten o'clock he made an in- 
spection on foot of various parts of the buildings and 
grounds before going to bed. By just such excessive over- 
work did he constantly undermine and finally break down 
his almost superhuman strength and powers of endurance. 

301 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

This he did with an obstinate persistence in spite of wise 
and increasingly urgent warnings from physicians, friends, 
and associates. Where his own health was concerned he 
obdurately refused to listen to reason. It would almost 
seem as though he had deliberately chosen to put forth 
herculean efforts until he dropped from sheer exhaustion 
rather than to work with moderation for a longer span of 
life. 

Booker Washington was a man who thought, lived, and 
acted on a very high plane. He was, in other words, an 
idealist, but unlike too many idealists he was sternly prac- 
tical. His mind worked with the rapidity of flashes of 
lightning, particularly when he was aroused. This led 
him at times to feel and show impatience in dealing with 
slower-minded people, particularly his subordinates. He 
was often stirred to righteous indignation by injustice, but 
always kept his temper under control. He had a lucid 
mind which reasoned from cause to effect with machine- 
like accuracy. His intuitions were amazingly keen and 
accurate. In other words, his subconscious reasoning 
powers were very highly developed. Consequently his 
judgments of men and events were almost infallible. Al- 
though practically devoid of personal vanity, he was a very 
proud and independent man, and one who could not brook 
dictation from any one or bear to be under obligation to 
anyone. He had the tenacity of a bulldog. His capacity 
for incessant work and his unswerving pursuit of a purpose 
once formed, were a constant marvel to those who sur- 
rounded him. While he was without conceit or vanity he 
302 



THE MAN 

had almost unlimited self-confidence. While it cannot be 
said that he overrated his own abilities, neither can it be 
said that he underrated them. His sympathies were 
easily aroused and he was abnormally sensitive, but he 
never allowed his emotions to get the better of his judg- 
ment. He forgave easily and always tried to find excuses 
for people who wronged, insulted, or injured him. In rep- 
artee he could hold his own with any one and enjoyed 
nothing more than a duel of wits either with an individual 
or an audience. 

Less than a month before he died, when he was wasted by 
disease and suffering almost constant pain, he received this 
letter of appeal from Madame Helena Paderewski: 



New York, October 26, 191 5. 

My Dear Mr. Washington: I am writing you a very 
personal letter on a subject that is close to my heart, and I 
know the message it carries will find a response in your gen- 
erous sympathy. It is with great pleasure that I recall 
our meetmg, some years ago, and I have watched the suc- 
cess of your work among your people with sincere satis- 
faction, for I have always been an advocate of the prin- 
ciples for which you stand, the uplift of the colored race. 

It is because I know you have ever directed your broad 
influence toward the most worthy causes that I am asking 
you in the name of the starving babies and their helpless 
mothers, to tell your people that we need them in our work 
of sending food and medicines to Poland. We need, my 
dear sir, even the smallest contribution that your beloved 
followers may offer, and I beg of you to make an appeal to 
your people. Tell them, for they may not all know as well 

303 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

as you, yourself, that it was a Pole — Kosciusko — ^who, in 
addition to fighting for American liberty, gave that which 
he needed himself to help the colored race. As you will 
recall, after refusing the grant of land offered him in 
recognition of his services in the War of the Revolution, he 
returned to Poland, not wishing to accept a reward for 
doing what he considered a sublime duty to those in need. 
Later, after eight years, when he again visited America, he 
was given a pension as General in the American Army. 
With the back pay during his absence, the sum amounted 
to about ^15,000. Although poor himself, he felt deep 
compassion for the neglected colored children and, with 
the money given him, he established the first school in 
America devoted exclusively to the education of the 
colored youth. 

I am sure you know the story in all its details, but I de- 
sire the colored people of America to know that to-day the 
descendants of the man who — unasked — aided them — 
plead for a crust of bread, a spoonful of milk for their 
hungry children. Tell them this and God will bless and 
prosper you in your telling and them in their giving. Do 
not think that small amounts are useless — five cents may 
save a life. I am sending Mr. Paderewski's appeal, but 
conditions, to-day, are worse now than when it was written. 
Will you help Poland.'' Will you do it now? 

Please reply to Hotel Gotham. 

Yours in work for humanity, 

[Signed] Helena Paderewski. 
Dr. Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee, Alabama. 

In spite of disease, pain, and weakness — in spite of the 
fact that he must have realized that his remaining time for 
his own chosen work had narrowed down to a matter of 

304 



THE MAN 

weeks — he instantly responded to this appeal. Immedi- 
ately he sent Madame Paderewski's letter to the Negro 
press of the entire country with this explanatory note: 

MADAME paderewski's APPEAL FOR POLISH VICTIMS 

Madame Helena Paderewski, wife of the famous 
pianist, has addressed a letter to Dr. Booker T. Washing- 
ton, of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, 
making an appeal for the Polish victims of the European 
War. The letter is sent to the press with the thought that 
there may be those among the Negro people who may feel 
disposed to respond to Madame Paderewski's appeal. 

An organization known as the PoHsh Victims' Relief 
Fund has been organized, with headquarters in Aeolian 
Building, 35 West Forty-Second Street, New York City. 
Madame Paderewski's letter follows, etc. 

Immediately after Mr. Washington's death Mrs. Wash- 
ington received the following note from Madame Pade- 
rewski : 

New York, November 15, 1916. 
Mrs. Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee, Alabama. 

My Dear Mrs. Washington: It was with a feeHng of 
personal loss that I read this morning of the death of Dr. 
Washington. I have always admired his courage and 
wonderful ability, and his passing at this time brings a 
double sorrow, for in this morning's mail I received a copy 
of the Tuskegee Student containing my letter and ap- 
peal to Dr. Washington. I wish it had been possible for 
me to have thanked him for what he has done, but I am 
sure that the Heavenly Father will bless this and the many 
other good works with which he was connected. 

305 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

I desire you to know how much I appreciate the kindness 
of Dr. Washington and how highly I esteemed him. Please 
accept my deep sympathy and believe me, 
Very sincerely yours, 

[Signed] Helena Paderewski. 



Although apparently indifferent to the treatment he re- 
ceived from those about him Booker Washington was in 
reality, as has been said, unusually sensitive. No matter 
what his engagements he always insisted upon being at 
home with his wife and children on Thanksgiving Day and 
on Christmas. One Christmas, about ten years ago, it so 
happened that no Christmas presents were provided for 
him. The children gave presents to one another and to 
their mother and she to them, but through oversight there 
were no presents for Mr. Washington. Mrs. Washington 
says that after the presents had been opened her husband 
drew her aside and said in broken tones: "Maggie, they've 
not given me a single Christmas present!" From then on 
Mrs. Washington saw to it that the children remembered 
their father at Christmas. 

In Birmingham, Ala., about three years before his death, 
he and his secretary entered an office building one day to 
call on one of the Tuskegee Trustees whose office was on 
the top floor. When they looked for an elevator they were 
referred by the hall man to the elevator for colored people. 
On this elevator was a sign reading, "For Negroes and 
Freight." His secretary expected him to comment on 
this, but he said nothing and seemed hardly to notice it. 
306 




Mr. Washington feeding his chiclcens with green stuffs raised in his 
own garden 




Mr \\ ashington in his onion patch 




Mr. Washington sorting in his lettuce bed 



THE MAN 
That evening, in addressing a great audience of both races 
in one of the big theatres of the city, he was urging the 
Negroes to look upon their Southern white neighbors as 
their friends and to turn to them for advice when he said 
very slowly and distinctly: "I visited, this morning, a 
building which had on the elevator for colored people a 
sign reading, 'For Negroes and Freight.' Now, my 
friends, that is mighty discouraging to the colored man!" 
At this not only the colored people, but the white people 
sprang to their feet and shouted, many of them, "You're 
right. Doctor!" "That's mean!" "That's not fair!" 
and other such expressions. 

Every morning before breakfast when at home Mr. 
Washington would visit his chickens, pigs, and cows. 
He said of finding the newly laid eggs: "I like to find the 
new eggs each morning myself, and am selfish enough to 
permit no one else to do this in my place. As with growing 
plants, there is a sense of freshness and newness and rest- 
fulness in connection with the finding and handling of 
newly laid eggs that is delightful to me. Both the real- 
ization and the anticipation are most pleasing. I be- 
gin the day by seeing how many eggs I can find or how 
many little chicks there are that are just beginning to 
creep through the shells. I am deeply interested in the 
different kinds of fowls, and always grow a number of 
different breeds at my own home." 

But none of the animals interested him and aroused his 
enthusiasm as did the pigs. He always kept on his own 
place some choice specimens of Berkshires and Poland 

307 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Chinas at whose shrine he worshipped each morning. 
Also he always insisted that the swine herd of the In- 
stitute be kept recruited up to full strength and in fact 
considerably beyond full strength in the opinion of the 
Agricultural Director who in vain protested that it was not 
profitable to keep so large a herd. It would be interesting 
to know whether the great economic importance of the pig 
to his race was at the bottom of Booker Washington's 
fondness for the animal. 

After breakfast he mounted his horse and made a round 
of the Institute farms, truck gardens, dormitories, and 
shops before going to his office and attacking his huge 
correspondence. This correspondence, both in its dimen- 
sions and catholicity, was typical of the man. His daily in- 
coming mail amounted to between 125 and 150 letters. 
The outgoing ran to between 500 and 1,000 letters daily — 
in large part, of course, "campaign letters," as he called 
them, letters seeking to interest new friends in the work of 
the Institute, and others keeping in touch with friends al- 
ready interested, etc. His advice, opinion, or comments 
were sought on every conceivable subject both by seri- 
ous and sensible men and women and by cranks of both 
races. Hundreds of the humbler people of his own race 
were constantly applying to him for Information and ad- 
vice as to whether it would be profitable to start this or 
that business venture, or whether or not It would be possi- 
ble to establish a school In this or that community, and 
how they should set about It. 

Booker Washington's sense of justice was unquench- 
308 



THE MAN 

able. While at Coden-on-the-Bay, near Mobile, Ala., in 
September, 191 5, snatching a few days of rest and recrea- 
tion as a palliative for the insidious disease which was so 
soon to end his life, he was distressed by a newspaper re- 
port of the killing of a number of Haitians by United 
States Marines. He read the report in a Mobile paper late 
one afternoon on his return from a fishing trip. He went 
to bed but could not sleep. The misfortunes of the tur- 
bulent little black republic seethed through his mind. 
Early in the morning, while his companions were still 
sleeping, he awakened the inevitable stenographer and 
dictated an article counselling patience in dealing with the 
unfortunate little country. This article, dictated by a 
dying man on the impulse of the moment, briefly recites 
the history of Haiti from the period over a hundred years 
ago when the people of the island wrested their liberty 
from France under the leadership of Toussaint L'Ouver- 
ture, up to the present time. He then says in part: 

"Associated Press dispatches a few days ago stated that 
forty or fifty Haitians had been killed on Haytian soil in 
one day by American marines and a number of marines 
wounded. To every black man in the United States this 
dispatch brought a feeling of disappointment and sorrow. 
While, as I have stated, the United States, under the cir- 
cumstances, was compelled to take notice of conditions in 
Haiti and is being compelled to control matters, largely 
because of the fault of the Haitians, I had hoped that the 
United States would be patient in dealing with the Haitian 
Government and people. The United States has been 

309 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

patient with Germany. It has been patient in the Phil- 
ippines. It has been exceedingly patient in dealing with 
Mexico. I hope this country will be equally patient and 
more than patient in dealing with Haiti — a weaker and 
more unfortunate country! 

"I very much wish that it might have been possible for 
the United States to have taken a little more time in mak- 
ing known to the Haitians the purposes we have in mind in 
taking over the control of their custom houses and their 
governmental affairs. While everything that we intend to 
do, and have in mind to do, is perfectly plain to the 
officials of the United States, we must remember that all 
this is not perfectly plain to the Haitians. It would have 
been worth while, in my opinion, before attempting 
arbitrarily to force Haiti to sign the treaty put before its 
officials, to have spent a little time and a little patience in 
informing the Haitian people of the unselfish benevolence 
of our intentions. They, in time, would have understood 
why it is necessary to intervene in their affairs. 

"Another reason, in my opinion, why patience may be 
manifested in this matter is that the treaty, even at the 
best, cannot be ratified by the United States Senate until 
it meets in regular session in December, unless the Presi- 
dent calls it in special session earlier. 

"I confess that while I am unschooled in such matters, 
since reading the treaty the Haitians have been told they 
must ratify, it seems to me rather harsh and precipitate; 
one cannot be surprised that the Haitians have hesitated 
to agree to all the conditions provided for in this treaty. 
310 



THE MAN 

No wonder they have hesitated when they have had so 
little time in which to understand it, when the masses of 
the Haitian people know little or nothing of what the 
treaty contemplates. 

"The way matters are now going, there is likely to be 
bitterness and war. The United States, in the end, will 
conquer, will control, will have its way, but it is one thing 
to conquer a people through love, through unselfish inter- 
est in their welfare, and another thing to conquer them 
through the bullet, through the shotgun. Shooting civili- 
zation into the Haitians on their own soil will be an amaz- 
ing spectacle. Sending marines as diplomats and Mauser 
bullets as messengers of destruction breed riot and an- 
archy, and are likely to leave a legacy of age-long hatreds 
and regrets. 

"I also hope the United States will not pursue a mere 
negative policy in Haiti, that Is, a policy of controlling 
the customs and what-not, without going further In pro- 
gressive, constructive directions. In a word, the United 
States now has an opportunity to do a big piece of fine 
work for Haiti in the way of education, something the 
island has never had. I hope some way will be provided 
by which a portion of the revenues will be used In giving 
the people a thorough, up-to-date system of common 
school, agricultural, and industrial education. Here Is an 
excellent opportunity for some of the young colored men 
and women of the United States who have been educated 
in the best methods of education In this country to go to 
Haiti and help their fellows. Here is an opportunity for 

311 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

some of the most promising Haitian boys and girls to be 
sent to schools in the United States. Here is an oppor- 
tunity for us to use our influence and power in giving the 
Haitians something they have never had, and that is edu- 
cation, real education. At least 95 per cent, of the peo- 
ple, as I have said, are unlettered and ignorant so far as 
books are concerned." 

Booker Washington's self-control was never more 
needed than on an occasion at Tuskegee described by T. 
Thomas Fortune, the Negro author and publicist. A 
Confederate veteran who had lost an arm fighting for the 
Confederacy and who had served for a number of years 
in Congress was on the program to speak at a Tuskegee 
meeting. This Confederate veteran had a great liking 
for Mr. Washington and believed in his ideas on the im- 
portance of industrial education for the colored people. 
Mr. Fortune says: 

"John C. Dancy, a colored man, at that time Collector 
of Customs at Wilmington, N. C, was to speak first, the 
Confederate veteran second, and I was to follow the latter. 
Mr. Dancy is an unusually bright and eloquent man. 
Mr. Dancy paid a glowing tribute to the New England 
men and women who had built up the educational interest 
among the colored people after the war, of which Hampton 
and Tuskegee Institutes are lasting monuments. Mr. 
Dancy had plenty of applause from the great concourse 
of countrymen, but his address made the white speaker 
furious. When the former Congressman was called upon 
to speak he showed plainly that he was agitated out of his 
312 



THE MAN 

self-restraint. Without any introductory remarks what- 
ever, he said, as I remember it: 

"'I have written this address for you,' waving it at the 
audience, 'but I will not deliver it. I want to give you 
niggers a few words of plain talk and advice. No such 
address as you have just listened to is going to do you any 
good; it's going to spoil you. You had better not Hsten 
to such speeches. You might just as well understand 
that this is a white man's country, as far as the South is 
concerned, and we are going to make you keep your place. 
Understand that. I have nothing more to say to you.' 

"The audience was taken back as much by the blunt- 
ness of the remarks as if they had been doused with cold 
water. Indignation was everywhere visible on the coun- 
tenances of the people. But Mr. Washington appeared 
unruffled. On the contrary, his heavy jaw was hard set 
and his eyes danced in a merry measure. It was a time to 
keep one's temper and wits, and he did so, as usual. With- 
out betraying any feeling in the matter, and when every- 
body expected him to announce the next speaker, he said: 

'"Ladies and Gentlemen: I am sure you will agree with 
me that we have had enough eloquence for one occasion. 
We shall listen to the next speaker at another occasion, 
when we are not so fagged out. We will now rise, sing 
the doxology, and be dismissed.' 

"The audience did so, but it was the most funereal 
proceeding I had ever witnessed upon such an occasion. 
Mr. Washington's imperturbable good nature alone saved 
the day." 

313 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

Some time after President Roosevelt had begun to con- 
sult Booker Washington on practically all his appoint- 
ments and policies which particularly affected the rela- 
tions between the races, and after several Southern white 
men had been given Federal appointments on Mr. Wash- 
ington's recommendation, the bitterness against him 
grew so intense, especially among the "Talented Tenth" 
element of the Northern Negroes, that he decided to meet 
a group of their leaders face to face, and have it out. 
Accordingly, through Mr. Fortune, he arranged to meet a 
number of these men at a dinner at Young's Hotel in 
Boston. Mr. Fortune thus describes what took place: 

"At the proper time, when the coffee and cigars were 
served, I arose and told the diners that Dr. Washington 
had desired to meet them at the banquet table and at the 
proper time to have each one of them express freely his 
opinion of the race question, and how best the race could 
be served in the delicate crisis through which it was then 
passing. Each of the speakers launched into a tirade 
against Dr. Washington and his policies and methods, 
many of them in lofty flights of speech they had learned 
at Harvard University. The atmosphere was dense with 
discontent and denunciation. 

"The climax was reached when William H. Lewis, the 
famous Harvard football coach, told Dr. Washington to go 
back South, and attend to his work of educating the Negro 
and 'leave to us the matters political affecting the race.' 
Every eye was upon Dr. Washington's face, but none of 
them could read anything in it; it was as inscrutable as a 
314 



THE MAN 

wooden Indian's. When every one of them had had his 
say, I called upon Dr. Washington to respond to the speak- 
ers who had unburdened themselves. Dr. Washington 
rose slowly, and with a slip of paper in his hand, said : 

"'Gentlemen, I want to tell you about what we are 
doing at Tuskegee Institute in the Black Belt of Ala- 
bama.' 

"For more than a half-hour he told them of the needs 
and the work without once alluding to anything that had 
been said in heat and anger by those to whom he spoke. 
He held them close to him by his simple recital, with here 
and there a small blaze of eloquence, and then thanking 
them for the candor with which they had spoken, sat down. 
They were all disappointed, as they expected that he 
would attempt to excuse himself for the things they had 
complained of." 

At the time of Mr. Washington's death, the same Wil- 
liam H. Lewis, who told him at this time to go back to the 
South and attend to his work and "leave to us the matters 
political affecting the race," said of him: 

"Words, like tears, are vain and idle things to express 
the great anguish I feel at the untimely death of Booker 
Washington. He was my friend who understood me and 
believed in me. I did not always believe in him because 
I did not understand him. I first saw and heard him 
when a junior at Amherst in the early 90's, when he spoke 
at Old John Brown's church in Springfield, where I jour- 
neyed to hear him. I could not then appreciate his 
love for the Southern people and his gospel of work. I 

31S 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

even doubted his loyalty to his race. When I came to 
Boston I joined in with his most violent and bitterest 
critics. The one thing that I am so thankful for is that 
I early saw the light and came to appreciate and under- 
stand the great work of Booker T. Washington. 

"I have just finished reading an old letter from him, 
date, October i, 1901, in which he said: 'The main point 
of this letter is to say I believe that both you and I are 
going to be in a position in the future to serve the race 
effectually, and while it is very probable that we shall al- 
ways differ as to detailed methods of lifting up the race, 
it seems to me that if we agree in each doing our best to 
lift it up the main point will have been gained, and I am 
sure that in our anxiety to better the condition of the 
race there is no difference between us, and I shall be de- 
lighted to work in hearty cooperation with you.' 

"Since then, I have known him intimately and well. 
He was unselfish and generous to a fault; he was modest 
yet masterful; he was quiet yet intense; his common 
sense and sagacity seemed uncanny, such was his knowl- 
edge of human nature. His was a great soul in which no 
bitterness or littleness could even find a lurking place. 
His was the great heart of Lincoln, with malice toward 
none and charity for all. He loved all men and all men 
loved him. 

"My humble prayer is that his torch has lighted another 
among the dark millions of America, to lead the race on- 
ward and upward." 

Booker Washington's insistence that the classrooms, 
316 



THE MAN 

shops, and farms were for the development of the students 
rather than the students for their development was well 
illustrated by a remark he once made to Bishop William 
Lawrence of Massachusetts when the Bishop was visiting 
the Institute. In reply to Bishop Lawrence's question 
as to whether he had chosen the best available land for his 
agricultural work, he said, "No, sir, I chose pretty nearly 
the poorest land I could find. I chose land on which men 
would have to spend all their energies to bring out the 
life in the land. They work here under the hardest 
conditions. When they go out to other lands — to their 
own lands, perhaps — they won't find any worse land to till. 
If they find any better land the difference will be all gain 
for them." 

Perhaps more remarkable than any or all of his achieve- 
ments was the fact that Booker Washington was a gentle- 
man. It would be difficult to find a man who better 
conformed to the exacting yet illusive requirements of 
that term. He had not only the naturalness and the 
goodness of heart which are the fundamentals, but he 
had also the breeding and the polish which distinguish 
the finished gentleman from the "rough diamond." This 
fact about Booker Washington has been well described 
by Hamilton Wright Mabie in an article entitled : " Booker 
T. Washington: Gentleman," in which he says in part: 

"Booker Washington became one of the foremost men 
in America; he was heard on great occasions by great audi- 
ences with profound attention; he was a writer and speaker 
of National position, the founder of a college, and the 

317 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

organizing leader of a race in ideas and industry. These 
were notable achievements; but there was another achieve- 
ment which was in its way more notable. Without any 
advantages of birth or station or training, a member of 
an ostracized race, with the doors of social life closed in 
his face, Dr. Washington was a gentleman. I recall two 
illustrations of this quality of nature, often lacking in 
men of great ability and usefulness. The first was in 
Stafford House, London, the residence of the Duke of 
Sutherland. The older Duke was the lifelong friend of 
Queen Victoria; and once, when she was going to Stafford 
House, she wrote the Duke that she was about to leave 
her uninteresting house for his beautiful palace. Nothing 
could be more stately than the great hall of Stafford House, 
with its two marble stairways ascending to the galleries 
above; and when the Duchess of Sutherland, standing on 
the dais from which the stairs ascended, received her guests 
she reminded more than one of her guests of the splendid 
picture drawn by Edmund Burke of Marie Antoinette 
moving like a star through the palace of Versailles. On 
that evening Dr. Washington was present. At one time 
in one of the rooms he happened to be talking with the 
duchess and two other women of high rank, two of them 
women of great beauty and statellness. There were some 
people present who were evidently very much impressed 
by their surroundings. Booker Washington seemed to 
be absolutely unconscious of the splendor of the house in 
which he was, or of the society in which for the moment 
he found himself. Born in a hut without a door-sill, he 
318 



THE MAN 

was at ease in the most stately and beautiful private 
palace in London. 

"On another occasion there was to be a Tuskegee meet- 
ing at Bar Harbor. The Casino had been beautifully 
decorated for a dance the night before. The harbor was 
full of yachts, the tennis courts of fine-looking young men 
and women; it was a picture of luxury tempered with 
intelligence. Mr. Washington was looking out of the 
window. Presently he turned to me and said, with a 
smile, 'And last Wednesday morning I was eating break- 
fast in a shanty in Alabama; there were five of us and 
we had one spoon!' " 

At the time of his stay in London, during which this 
reception at Stafford House took place, he was given a 
luncheon by a group of distinguished men to which Mr. 
Asquith, the Prime Minister, was invited. In reply, Mr. 
Asquith sent this note: 

lo Downing Street, Whitehall, S. W. 

26th September, 19 10. 
Dear Sir: I much regret that my engagements do 
not allow me to accept your invitation to be present at 
the luncheon which it is proposed to give in honor of 
Mr. Booker T. Washington. I feel sure, however, that 
he will be welcomed with a cordiality which his persistent 
and successful labors in the cause of the education of the 
American Negro deserve, especially at the hands of English 
men, whose difficulties in many parts of the Empire have 
been helped toward a solution by the results of his work. 
Yours faithfully, 

[Signed] H. H. Asquith. 

319 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

While at home, no matter how pressed and driven with 
work, Booker Washington snatched an hour or so every 
day for hunting or riding. This daily exercise became a 
fetich with him which he clung to with unreasonable 
obstinacy. He would frequently set off upon these hunts 
or rides in so exhausted a condition that obviously their 
only effect could be worse exhaustion. His intense ad- 
miration for Theodore Roosevelt probably had its in- 
fluence, conscious or unconscious, in strengthening his 
devotion to violent outdoor exercise. 

Whatever he was doing or wherever he was, his mind 
seemed constantly at work along constructive lines. At 
the most unexpected times and places he would suddenly 
call the inevitable stenographer and dictate some idea for 
an article or address or some plan for the improvement of 
Tuskegee or for the betterment of the whole race in this 
or that particular. He would sometimes reduce his 
immediate subordinates to the verge of despair by pour- 
ing out upon them in rapid succession constructive sugges- 
tions each one of which meant hours, days, and even weeks 
of time to work out, and then calling for the results of all 
before even one could be fairly put into effect. This 
tendency became particularly marked in his closing years 
when the consciousness of an immense amount of work 
to be done and a short and constantly lessening period in 
which to do it must have become an obsession and almost 
a nightmare to him. 

He would sometimes wound the feelings of acquaint- 
ances and friends, particularly his teachers, by passing 
320 



THE MAN 

them on the street and even looking at them without 
recognition. This naturally was not intentional, nor was 
it because his mind was wool-gathering, but merely be- 
cause he was thinking out some idea with which the people 
and events immediately about him had for the moment 
no connection and were consequently totally obliterated 
from his consciousness. 

Mr. Washington's strength of will and determination 
were never better shown than in the closing hours of his 
life. When he was told by his doctors at St. Luke's Hos- 
pital, New York, whither he had been taken by the New 
York trustees of the Institute after his final collapse, that 
he had but a few hours to Hve, he insisted upon starting 
for home at once. His physicians expostulated and 
warned him that in his condition he could not reasonably 
expect to survive the journey. He insisted that he must 
go and be true to his oft-repeated assertion, "I was born 
in the South, I have lived and labored in the South, and I 
expect to die and be buried in the South." This remark, 
when sent out in the Associated Press dispatches an- 
nouncing his death, touched the South as nothing else 
could have. No Negro was ever eulogized in the Southern 
press as he was. Long accounts of his career and death 
with sympathetic and appreciative editorial comments 
appeared in most of the Southern papers. 

One of the doctors who was called in to attend him at 
the time he was taken to the hospital remarked that it 
was "uncanny to see a man up and about who ought by 
all the laws of nature to be dead." In this condition, 

321 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

then, he set out upon the long journey from New York to 
Tuskegee. When the party reached the Pennsylvania 
Station an invalid's chair was awaiting him, but he de- 
clined to use it, and leaning on the arms of his companions 
walked or rather tottered to his seat in the train. As 
soon as the train began to move Southward a slight in- 
vigoration of triumph seemed to come over him which 
increased as the journey continued, until at its close he 
seemed stronger than when he started. All along the way 
he would inquire at frequent intervals what point they 
had reached. The reaching and passing of each important 
station such as Greensboro, Charlotte, and Atlanta he 
Avould seem to score up in his mind's eye as a new triumph. 
And when finally he reached Chehaw, the little station five 
miles from Tuskegee, he was fairly trembling with eager 
expectancy. As we have said, he reached Tuskegee ap- 
parently stronger than when he left New York and strong 
enough to enjoy the final triumph of his indomitable will 
over his overworked and weakened body. The next 
morning, November 14, 191 5, he was dead. 

Of the myriads of tributes to Booker Washington by 
white men and black both North and South, which were 
spoken from platforms and pulpits and printed in nev/s- 
papers and periodicals throughout the length and breadth 
not only of America but the world, there are two which 
we feel irresistibly compelled to use in concluding this 
chapter and book. One is the tribute of a former student, 
Isaac Fisher, president of the Tuskegee Alumni Associa- 
tion, speaking for the graduates at the memorial exercises 
322 



THE MAN 
held at Tuskegee on December 12, 1915; the other is 
the tribute of one of his teachers, Clement Richardson, 
head of the division of English, speaking in effect for the 
Tuskegee teachers in an article published in the Survey 
of December 4, 1915. 

At this memorial meeting, after being introduced by 
Seth Low, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, as the repre- 
sentative of the Tuskegee Alumni Association, Mr. Fisher 
said: 

"Mr. Chairman: The greatest citizens of this nation 
have paused long enough to pay tributes of honor to the 
memory of Dr. Washington; and to-night some of the 
world's most distinguished citizens are present to say their 
words of love for the departed chieftain whose body lies 
in a grave just outside of those walls. In the presence of 
these great men I do not see why you have asked me, one 
of the least of all, to add my simple praise. 

"But I can say that no persons have sustained so great a 
loss as have the members of the Tuskegee Alumni Associa- 
tion; and I come to bear testimony to the depth and 
sincerity of their grief. 

"There is a story which has not yet been told, in con- 
nection with the spread of industrial education in the South 
and throughout the entire country. I must tell that story 
here before I can make clear just how great is the Alumni's 
loss. 

"In telling of the spread of industrial education, during 
the past twenty-five years, we seem not to know that the 
work has been difficult and prosecuted at great sacrifice on 

323 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

the part of the Tuskegee graduates who have sought to 
interpret Dr. Washington's theory that economic fitness 
was the basis of racial growth in many other directions. 

"The people did not take kindly to this form of educa- 
tion, believing that it was the same old slavery from which 
we have emerged under a new name; and the Tuskegee 
graduates have prosecuted their work in the face of the 
misrepresentations, prejudice, opposition, and ridicule of 
those of their own race who could or would not understand 
the spirit of industrial education — a spirit broader and 
finer than the phrase suggests. More than this: in the 
communities where they have worked it has been the 
fashion to permit our graduates to do the difl&cult tasks 
and carry all the burdens of leadership; but if there were 
any honors to be bestowed, they were given to the gradu- 
ates of other schools. 

"Being human and denied those honors and public 
marks of esteem which always gladden the heart, these 
Tuskegee men and women have often grown discouraged 
and have been tempted to lay down their work. But like 
Daniel, when those gloomy hours came, they have turned 
their faces toward Jerusalem, to Tuskegee, over which the 
great spirit of Dr. Washington brooded and lived; and 
from this place he has sent back to them whenever they 
have called, encouragement, counsel, and help. 

"Sometimes they have been so depressed that they have 
come to Tuskegee just to see and talk with their prophet 
once more and to be baptized again in his sweet and noble 
spirit. Many times we have seen them here and wondered 

324 



THE MAN 

at their presence. They were here to receive comfort, and 
to hear Mr. Washington say in his own convincing manner: 
'It has been my experience that if a man will do the right 
thing and go ahead, everything will be all right at last.' 
And these men and women who have 'sat at his feet and 
who trusted him have gone back to their work with new 
and increasing strength. 

" But now Dr. Washington is gone, and the graduates of 
the school will never again receive his counsel and en- 
couragement, however gloomy their paths may be. That 
is the measure of our loss. 

"And yet our Principal is not buried out yonder. It is 
his tired body which is resting just beyond that wall; but he 
is not buried in that grave. The real Dr. Washington is 
buried in the graduates who sat at his feet and imbibed his 
spirit, and he lives in them. 

"King David, pondering over God's mercies and good- 
ness to him, thinking of how he had been taken from mind- 
ing sheep and placed upon the throne of Israel; and how 
God had guided and protected him and made his name 
great in the earth, exclaimed reverently, one day, 'What 
shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits unto me?' 
and he answered his question, in part, by saying: 'I will 
pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all the 
people.' 

"If all our graduates could speak to-night, they would 
have me pay their vows of gratitude for the opportunity to 
make blessed and beautiful their lives, given by our great 
teacher; and they would have me give public assurance of 

32s 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

their fealty to the work for which Mr. Washington gave 
his life. 

"And so, Mr. Chairman, in the name of the Alumni 
Association and in the spirit of him whose body lies buried 
just beyond those walls, I pledge you and the Trustees the 
loyalty of the Tuskegee graduates to whatever work they 
are called in connection with the realization of Dr. Wash- 
ington's great purpose. I pledge you their support in the 
work which you have come to Tuskegee to perform; be- 
cause we are learning self-government and wish to help 
prove to the world that we can pass the succession to the 
Principalship here without revolution. By this time to- 
morrow night another prophet will have been raised up to 
serve in the room of the great founder of this school. I 
want you, Sir, and the Board of Trustees to know that 
when the proclamation is made that 'The King is Dead!' 
our Alumni Association will be ready to reply: 'Long Live 
the King!' and we will faithfully, honestly, and loyally sup- 
port the person you elect to succeed our great father, who- 
ever that person may be. 

"In the furtherance of Dr. Washington's work, the 
graduates stand ready to say: 

"Til go where you want me to go, dear Lord, 
O'er the mountain, or plain, or sea; 
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord; 
I'll be what you want me to be.' " 

In the Survey article, after briefly describing the ups and 
downs of Mr. Washington's long fight against a breaking 
constitution, Mr. Richardson says: 
326 



THE MAN 

"With such perpetual rallying power who could cope? 
A latent feeling crept among many that he was immune to 
pain as he had been to insult and abuse. You know he 
could steer on over an insult and never see it. Some of us 
shook our heads and said, 'Why he is good for ten years 
yet.' Seeing that he thus defied nerves and baffled pain, 
we hoped. It was in the hour of hope that the last stroke 
came, and we felt that pulling at the throat which we 
should have felt had he gone by sudden accident. 

"How Tuskegee took Dr. Washington's death can 
probably best be appreciated by an account of what his 
life meant among his teachers. Officially he was a stern 
and exacting task master. A tireless worker himself, he 
imposed heavy tasks upon others. In the home, however, 
he had a genius for cheering by little kindnesses and by a 
thoughtful word. Now he would send around a basket of 
vegetables from his garden, now a cut of one of his pigs 
which he had killed and in which he took great de- 
light. 

"People who sent books and pictures to Tuskegee can 
hardly realize what a double pleasure they were shipping: 
the pleasure they gave him and others through him. He 
would have the boxes opened and books and pictures 
brought in to his'office. Then from all his heaps of corre- 
spondence, from business engagements, from matters of 
national importance, he would turn aside and go through 
these himself, culling them out. He would sort a pile here 
for this family; one there for another, according to what he 
considered would suit each. Many a time one could 

327 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

scarcely find a place to step in his office for the pictures and 
books. In all things he received, but to share. 

"Then he had a way of kicking organizations to pieces for 
a few minutes. If some rural school had a creditable exhibit 
he would order that the senior class, 150 strong, should be 
taken there, whether it was one mile or ten miles away. He 
would order the class out to see how some poor, illiterate 
farmer had raised a bumper crop of peas, corn, sugar cane^ 
and peanuts, how he surrounded himself with conven- 
iences, both inside and outside the home. Now he would 
declare a half holiday; now he would allow the students to 
sleep a half-hour later in the morning. 

"In the same way the teachers would get an outing once 
or twice a year, sometimes at night, sometimes in the day. 
As the teachers are on duty for both day and night school, 
and as the students usually rise at 5:30 and breakfast at 6, 
these little breaks were windfalls. They sent each one 
back to his labors with a smile. He knew the value of 
change and the psychology of cheer. No wonder then that 
when death closed his eyes both teachers and students 
went about heavy of limb and with eyes that told too 
plainly what the heart felt. 

"Just as he touched the students and teachers with little 
thoughtful deeds so he touched the town and State, both 
white and black. One feature of his funeral illustrated 
how complete had been his triumph over narrow prej- 
udices. He was always talking about the white man up 
the hollow, back' in the woods. How many times have 
I heard him urge picturesquely upon gatherings of teachers 
328 



THE MAN 

to 'win that old fellow who, when you begin to talk Negro 
education and Negro schoolhouse, scratches his head, leans 
to one side, and looks far away. That's the man,' he 
would say, 'that you've got to convince that Negro 
education is not a farce.' 

"Well, that man was at Booker T. Washington's 
funeral. He came there on foot, on horseback, in bug- 
gies, in wagons. He was there in working clothes, in 
slouched hat, with no collar. 

"During the service I chanced to stand near the end of 
the platform. Pretty soon I felt a rough brushing against 
my elbow. As I turned I saw a small white child, poorly 
clad, being thrust upon the end of the flower-laden plat- 
form. Then followed an old white man, collarless, wearing 
a dingy blue shirt and a coat somewhat tattered. After 
him came two strapping fellows, apparently his sons. All 
grouped themselves there and listened eagerly, freely 
spitting their tobacco juice on the platform steps and on 
the floor. 

"How thankful would Dr. Washington have been for 
their presence. What a triumph! Ten years ago those 
men would not stop at the school. They cursed it, cursed 
the whole system and the man at the head of it. But 
quietly, persistently, he had gone on with that everlasting 
doctrine that service can win even the meanest heart, that 
an institution had the right to survive in just so far as it 
dovetailed its life into the life of all the people. Beautiful 
to behold, to remember forever; there was no race and no 
class in the Tuskegee chapel on Wednesday morning, 

329 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

November 17th; heart went out to heart that a common 
friend had gone. 

"Broken as everybody is over the loss, no one is afraid. 
No panic as to the future of the school disturbs the breasts 
of the 190 odd teachers here. In the first place, poor as 
most of us are, we are ready to suffer many a privation be- 
fore we see the institution slip back the slightest fraction 
of an inch. All these years it has been on trial, on record. 
It has been a test, not of a mere school, but of a race. A 
tacit pledge — not a word has thus far been spoken — has 
gone out among us that it shall remain on record, that it 
shall stand here as a breathing evidence that Negroes can 
bring things to pass. 

"Back of this is the unshaken faith in our Board of 
Trustees. I doubt if such another board exists. It 
is made up of white men and black men, of men of the 
North and men of the South. There is not a figurehead 
among them. Though intensely engaged they go into the 
details of the workings of the school, getting close to the 
inner workings and to the lives of the teachers and 
students. 

"Finally, we are confident that the public will have a 
good deal to say before Tuskegee is let die. The beaten 
path has been made to her door. Her methods have not 
only been commended but adopted wholly or in part both 
in this country and in other lands. Her use is undisputed. 
She takes students almost literally out of the gutter, puts 
them on their feet, and sends them out honest, peaceful, 
useful citizens. This is the ideal for which Dr. Washing- 
330 



THE MAN 

ton struggled, and over which his life-cord snapped too 
soon. 

"For the same ideal the people at Tuskegee, though 
broken in spirit, are willing to spend themselves; for they 
are confident that their cause is just and that the world is 
with them." 



THE END 



33^ 




THE COUNTRY tlTE PRESS 
GARDEN CITY, N. Y.